the story of Continental Breakfasts.
I don’t do many specific things consistently from one day to the next. About the only thing I can be counted on is to start the day with a bowl of oatmeal and a cup of coffee….and, also, for the last three years, to take a picture (or three)
at some point in the morning.
In early January 2010, my roommate at the time, Seth, announced that he’d be having a visitor- a woman named Anna he had met the month before during his west coast tour. Anna lived in Kelowna, BC at the time, but was home in Ontario visiting family for the holidays, and took a few days to make the trip down to Rochester.
As it happened, the night before Anna arrived, I found a book called “A year of mornings” at the bookstore. It was a year’s worth of two women on opposite ends of the continent documenting their daily morning routine. At a time when I was completely low on photographic inspiration, the simple quiet of their lovely photos struck a chord, and I thought, “I would love to do that.” I’d tried the ‘photo-a-day’ thing before (I even have a ghost of an old semi-daily photo blog here) but had never been able to stick with it. The collaborative nature of this particular project was especially attractive to me- the relationship that was created between not just the photos, but the two women themselves, through something as simple as a photo a day.
I bought the book, finally hit with a flurry of inspiration. And over the course of the week Anna was at our house, we began developing a friendship, and an idea took root. How often is it really that you become friends with someone who’s a fellow photographer, farmer, and morning appreciator, who lives all the way on the other coast, when thats EXACTLY the sort of person you are seeking? So one day I left the book out when I went to work, and when I came home at the end of the day, exactly what I’d hoped would happen, happened: Anna mentioned how much she liked the book, and that she thought it would be cool to do something like that….and, well, I jumped on it. A few weeks later, when Anna had returned to the west coast, Continental Breakfasts was born.
Fast forward 2 and 3/4′s a year- we’ve been at it ourselves ever since. We’ve now been posting a photo a day from our mornings (and honestly- sometimes afternoons) to our blog for over 1,000 days. For someone who is not the best at doing things consistently, this has sometimes felt like the one thing that has kept order to my weeks.
It’s been fascinating on so many levels: the sometimes uncanny connections between our photos; the way the project has resonated with friends and acquaintances all over the place; the fact that something so public also serves as a deeply personal journal for both of us- a record of the many twists and turns our lives have taken over the last thirty-four months. The photos have seen us through major life changes: moves, deaths, breakups; new homes, new jobs, new loves. They’ve seen us through seemingly as many magical adventures and journeys as they have average, ordinary mornings.
And finally, at almost the three-year mark, we have the opportunity to take it from our little corner of the internet to the walls. We’ve wanted to do this since pretty much the beginning, and I can’t imagine a better home for a show of this project than The Yards- home to collaboration in so many respects.
The last few weeks have been dedicated to intense preparations: organizing and printing everything, figuring out how the hell to get 2060 photos onto the walls (that was without question the hardest part); finding materials, constructing a hanging system, talking on the phone to work out logistics, etc. On Wednesday, Anna will fly here from California (!!!!) and we will go immediately into a frenzy of photo-hanging; and by Saturday’s grand opening, the walls of the Yards will be covered completely with our last three years. I can’t really even imagine how that is going to feel.
The question people keep asking: “ALL of the photos?” I can’t see any way around it: so much of whats made it great- besides the the relationships embodied in the entries- has been the consistency, the dedication to doing something daily, no matter what. The sheer volume is daunting to be sure, but its also essential. I’m guessing somewhere around hanging the 967th photo or so, I may feel differently, but really, I know its worth it.
None of this would be possible without the support of the completely amazing people that I know: my wonderful boyfriend, who has been at the Yards working basically every minute that I have and has really probably done more work than I have; my friend Brian, who’s been in my corner encouraging me about this for months, his girlfriend, who came after a long day at work to help us build; Sarah and Lea at the Yards, who have been so so so supportive; and of course all of the positive energy from so friends who have been supportive of and excited about the project along the way. etc etc. I’m already completely overwhelmed with gratitude about all this, and I’m sure its only going to increase as this crazy week progresses. (I also sort of can’t wait to see what kind of morning photos Anna and I end up with during the days we are actually TOGETHER, after so many days on opposite sides of the continent.)
As my roommate put it today, it’s the project of a lifetime. It’s meant so much to me already; I can’t imagine how it will feel to see it put all together at last, and to share that experience with the public. I hope to see you there.
Continental Breakfasts: A 3-year photographic collaboration.
GRAND OPENING Saturday, December 1st, 6-10pm.
The Yards Collaborative Art Space
50-52 Public Market Way | Rochester NY 14609