Entrance, The Reagan Ranch Center, Santa Barbara, California, 2014
Rancho del Cielo, a 688-acre ranch northwest of Santa Barbara, was owned and used by US president Ronald Reagan as the “Western White House” during his presidency. His widow, Nancy Reagan, sold the property to the Young America’s Foundation, a conservative group that preserves it today as “a living monument to Reagan’s ideas, values, and lasting accomplishments.” The ranch is closed to the public, but the foundation offers students and supporters an opportunity to visit the property. The foundation is headquartered in a building adjacent to Highway 101, near the Santa Barbara Railroad Station. The foundation calls this headquarters building “A Schoolhouse for Reaganism” and offers four floors of classrooms, lecture space, a movie theatre, ranch exhibits and a library of resources designed to “bring conservative ideas to life.” I photographed the entrance to the headquarters by placing the frame of one its open doors directly through the middle of a panting of the former president. The painting is mounted on a black background hanging from the building’s façade. By dividing and partially obscuring Reagan's face with the door frame, I abstract the painting to change its meaning. Can the former president be winking at us? The curve of the doorframe leads from his face to the entryway itself. This image may convey differing messages for people holding divergent opinions of Reagan, the president. His supporters may see the wink I’ve created here as a tribute to his trademark sense of humor, while others might read the image as a comment on a former president who some feel governed with one eye shut. If an image can express different ideas to different people, it will be all the stronger for it.
Fishing net, Acre, Israel, 2011
The well worn, rusting blue metal door along Acre’s harbor provides a handy hanging spot for a green and purple fishing net with red floats. I liked the rhythmic repetition of the inverted “V” door braces flanking the triangular mass of net on both the top and bottom. The colors of the net vividly contrast to a fading torn poster featuring what once was a view of Acre’s harbor.
Open door, Valletta, Malta, 2011
The repeating rhythms of the three large green double doors, fronted by three metal hitching posts, drew my eye. I waited for someone to walk past them to add still another layer of meaning to the image. As luck would have it, someone not only walked into my frame – he hauled open one of those large doors and paused for a moment within the entrance as I made this image. He seems to be walking into the past. After making the shot, I noticed that someone had also placed a small pot with a green plant in front of that door’s hitching post, extending a touch of green color into the foreground as well.
Old door, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2010
Detail makes this door come alive – it looks as if it has been in place here for much of Santa Fe’s 400-year history. It stands near the Alameda Creek, obviously entirely crafted by hand, the art of a master wood carver. Its scars and coloration add character, a patina etched by the passage of time itself.
Mind the step, Durango, Colorado, 2010
What initially may look like a step is not. It is just a lighter color stone, set into the foundation of this old house. It’s a long way from the sidewalk to the base of this old door, giving it a very incongruous setting. I liked the way the color of the glowing reddish light within the house is echoed by the red flowers in the box on the wall. The pink flowers pick up the color of the wall, as well.
Chamber, State Capitol Museum, Phoenix, Arizona, 2009
A morning sun warms the walls and doors that line the former House of Representatives chamber in Arizona’s old state capitol building, now a museum. This door leads to the room where committees once met and clerks once worked in the early years of the 20th century. The diagonal play of light and shadow embraces it, painting it in warm, nostalgic colors. It helps yesterday become today.
Piecemeal, Sousse, Tunisia, 2008
This door provides an insight into the Tunisian economy – it is a study in piecemeal repair. I made this image within the 800-year-old medina of Sousse, where things are generally old and sometimes very old. I have no idea how long this door has served its owners, but it is obvious that when this door breaks it is not replaced, but seemingly reinforced at random. It becomes an incongruous symbol of a world where time stands still, money is hard to come by, and craftsmanship is not an issue. Incongruity comes to us here not just through the skills of the photographer, but rather through the bizarre nature of the subject itself. All we have to do is notice it, and expression takes place.
Hand of Fatima, Sousse, Tunisia, 2008
Fatima was the compassionate daughter of the Prophet Mohammed, a maker of miracles. The hand of Fatima is used throughout Tunisia, as well as other North African countries, as a form of superstitious protection, particularly in the form of doorknockers. I saw dozens of them, but this one was memorable because it was as blue as the door behind it. Superstition is rooted in mystery, and so is this image. I loved the play of light and shadow: the hand of the good Fatima is illuminated by the warmth of the sun, while the door itself is left mostly dark, implying the doubts and dangers that go hand in hand (no pun intended) with superstition.
Unhinged, Kairouan, Tunisia, 2008
I layer an unhinged door with an ancient rag and decaying building. How long has this door hung unhinged on its jam, leaving the entrance to this old building open to all visitors? Kairuoan is almost a thousand years old, making age and decay a relative matter. There is a haunting beauty to this scene, chaotic geometry that challenges the imagination, making us wonder who lived and worked here, where have they gone, and if they will ever return?
Blue door, Volcano, California, 2008
A door can be viewed as a barrier as well as a portal. In the old gold mining towns of 19th century California, most of the surviving buildings have sturdy metal doors, probably intended to keep unwelcome visitors out. I used late afternoon light to bury this door in mysterious shadow. A pillar acts as a sentry – it casts a long shadow, leading the eye into the door itself and finding its echo in its black reinforcing panels. The deep blue color is memorable – it gives the door its character and provides contrast to the gray granite that frames it.
Living history, Yosemite National Park, 2008
California school children often come to Yosemite’s Pioneer village, dress in 19th century rural costumes, and live for a day as people lived during the Gold Rush era. I found this student poised just inside of the door of an old building, his head in shadow, and his toes awkwardly placed together, yet his face glows in the reflected light. The door to the past is wide open for him, yet he seems reluctant to walk through it. The glow on his face suggests that he will soon muster the courage to leave the shadows of the building and step back into the 19th century.
Passageway, Fatehpur Sikri, India, 2008
Fatehpur Sikri is an abandoned labyrinth of sandstone galleries, pavilions, and structures that once served as Emperor Akbar imperial palace. I bring this passageway to life by relating a couple of tourists to the magnificent architecture and spectacular colors of this place. As one glides through space, the other seemingly supports one of a thousand doors that have stood open for 400 years.