Our Sunday Best: The Golden Hour (Dusk Draws a Veil Across All Easy Answers)

Edward Steichen:  Isadora Duncan Dancer

At the little house that overlooks the sea, dusk begins to osmose all hard edges, even our own.

The waves blur, and the trees fade to smoke, and the ghost lights from passing automobiles dip in reverence like pairs of swans.




You and I came back to the sea in order to watch nighttime emerge, to consider the fading light, to turn over and over in our hands these stories of three men who became photographers in a time when two world wars marred the landscape.

Two of them were naturalized citizens who had crossed oceans and ideas to get here.

One of them nearly faded into obscurity.

But all three— Edward Steichen, Weegee, and Richard Avedon— taught us that photography is not one idea, but many ideas that overlap and crash like errant waves in the night sea in front of us.




Because the night has arrived, we stand now in the dark on the porch of the little house by the sea. I do not look at you as I ask this question:

Where do you want to go next?

Here is what I do not say: Because I can take you anywhere in the world. Because we can leapfrog the years and the hours. Because it is time for us to depart again to find out how we got here, how you and I learned to hold a camera and consider a thousand-thousand options for a single photographic image.

I am smiling in the dark.

I am listening to the sea speak, but really— I am standing here, patiently, waiting for your reply.


About Courtenay Bluebird

Courtenay Bluebird is the creator of Bluebird Blvd. and The Bluebird B-Side. She is a published writer, career journalist, and professional photographer who likes books and sweets. She laughs loudly and sincerely both in public and in private.
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  1. W. Eugene Smith seems to me like the next best step into the photographic wilderness. Granted, he’ll probably totally blow your mind, but he defined the photo-essay like none other. From the WWII Pacific Theater to the U.S. heartland, to Franco’s Spain, Schweitzer’s Africa, Haiti and finally back to Minamata, Japan; he covered it all and through a tenuous relationship with Life Magazine, brought it home.

    Smith could also provide an opening to the European photographers, especially Robert Capa, Cartier-Bresson, maybe even Ernst Haas who had a more creative bent.

    • I meant to insert Robert Doisneau between Cartier-Bresson and Hass, but accidently left him out.

    • Courtenay Bluebird

      I am feverishly beginning my notes tomorrow, Donald. Thank you for this amazing suggestion. I am ridiculously excited to move into this next part.

    • Courtenay Bluebird

      Donald— I have my list now, and my marching orders, and I am ready to go. (How did I not remember W. Eugene Smith? You were right. He is blowing my mind. How did he create such technically perfect work with that level of empathy?)

      You taught me Capa and Cartier-Bresson, but I don’t remember Haas. (I love Capa and Cartier-Bresson.) I am tripping over myself b/c of Haas’s motion studies. Good grief! So much talent.

      I am ready! Let’s go, let’s go, let’s go!

  2. Created ~ Create.it

    Beautifully written. I enjoyed this. Thank you 🙂

  3. The name of your blog reflects your writing so well; it flies and it sings in a songbird voice. Your words are so lovely. They’re ascending all around me when I read like doves and I can’t think for the rhythm and beauty.

    • Courtenay Bluebird

      Sarah— Thank you so much for this beautiful and eloquent compliment. You are so thoughtful! (My apologies for the late reply. I’ve been having mondo computer issues, which should be fixed very soon.)

Hey there, cupcake! How are ya?