New Music

Last December I had the great opportunity to photograph my brother Laurence during recording sessions for his new album, "Honor Thy Fathers" at Sear Studio in NYC.  It was fantastic to watch and listen as he and his collaborators John Patitucci and Kendrick Scott laid it down.  What an incredible experience!  It's been a long time since I did this kind of work - I'd forgotten how much I love it!



This past Saturday, 4/25/2015, my younger brother Brent and I completed the 10K of the Illinois Marathon in 1:39:45.  What's remarkable about that is that on 11/4/2011, Brent had a stroke that left him paralyzed on his left side. 
It's a long story.  Physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, 8 moves to and from different facilities in 2 states, countless friends, kind strangers ... I was able to move Brent to a wonderful place in the town where I live.  And on Saturday, with the help of a running chair, we achieved another milestone in the Hobgood family.

This is Brent walking toward the finish line with me.

  Be happy, healthy, and follow the guidelines for stroke prevention:)


In The Darkroom

It's a lovely thing, the darkroom. The sound of running water, familiar smells of fixer and stop bath, damp concrete floor, shadowy corners, the muted safelight. I watch the images I print appear on the paper and have made something.  Here is my darkroom sink, with the light on.

And below, in the dark, on the left, is my enlarger as I'm printing. The colorful splash in the upper left is the enlarger head, the white horizontal slash just below is the light as it beams through the enlarging lens down to the paper, the reddish rectangle at the bottom. It looks red because I'm using a magenta filter for contrast. The safelight is in the upper right, and the other things being illuminated are boxes of photo paper of various sizes. I'm printing a 16x20 sink.

This is the sink when it's finished. Of course it's just a scan of the piece, but you get the idea.


On A Lighter Note...

I may need to have this little boat.

Memorial Day Weekend, a Trip to Joplin

The Memorial Day holiday was a surreal combination of events for me. I had known for a while that I was going to St. Louis with a friend to see her husband play a benefit concert.  The news of the tornado in Joplin was shocking, and we made a plan to drive on west from St. Louis after the show to volunteer. We hooked up my little travel trailer so we'd be sure to have a place to stay and headed south.

Rather than just park Turtle Cabin and opt for a hotel in St. Louis, we found a place for campers there and invited some friends for a cookout.  My brother Brent is wearing the shower cap.

Mitch on the jumbotron...

It was a good show for a good cause.  The fact that we were about to celebrate Memorial Day made it more significant. 

And then on to Joplin the next day.  My son's high school generously donated alot of things, and our new friend Jackie Collins and her volunteer staff at VFW Post 534 in Joplin posed for this picture when we dropped off our supplies at one of the many distribution centers.

This is a main thoroughfare in Joplin.  Everything for several miles was demolished.  It's impossible to explain what it looked like. We registered as volunteers at the disaster relief headquarters on the Missouri Southern State University campus and then helped at a few distribution centers. 

The next morning we were bused in to the high school, which was totally demolished, and then walked from there to a specific location to help with debris clean-up.  On the walk in we saw no houses standing, not a single leaf on the trees.

We helped a young couple whose names were Scott and Heather clear the area where their home had been and salvage belongings.  They'd hoped to find among other things a folder with money they'd been saving.

By the end of the day, we'd met people from all over the country who'd come to help.

What a day.


Making A New Piece

Working through new pieces is mysterious, as complete ideas for me appear in stages.  There is a song I love, that my brother performs with his music partner, Kurt Elling, that I didn't even know I was making a piece about until I was. Yesterday I went to the costume vaults at the performing arts center where I live, looking for a dress which I realized was for a piece to be about the song.

It started while on a long trip during the winter. I was driving, and made this line drawing with my other hand on the wheel.

Usually my sketches are better - not typically executed at 75mph pulling a trailer. Here's an example of ideas sketched under more normal conditions...

Before I went to the costume shop I worked out what I thought I was after...

And while I was there I realized that I wanted a gingham pink/white check faded shirtwaist dress like curtains sunshine light because I wanted to make a picture like the lyric of this song ... "Leaving Again / In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning."  As I listen to the song I imagine two people very in love, somewhere far away from anything, in a house with open windows... And in my imagining I have arrived at an idea of a photograph of a dress the woman would be wearing to be in love in the lyric... a dream where we could breathe in the heavy curtained prairie air of summer night / watching lightning over wheat fields through a bedroom window*.  Somehow I imagine she is wearing this dress while alone. This is a most beautiful song, and I think everyone should hear it at least once, performed live is of course best, but it is so absolutely lovely to me I say at least buy it and listen to it over and over again...credits at the end of my story.

So, here is a picture of what it looks like to be standing in the middle of a large costume vault looking for a dress a woman would wear to be in love in a house with open windows by a wheatfield.

And I found the right one...although most will say, how is it that that will become a pink checked gingham dress that one could be in love in a wheatfield in?  .... Art is a beautiful thing, because one never knows.  As I said, it's a mysterious process.

While I was there, I came across the dress I used for "The Blue Dress."  It was like seeing an old friend.

So, should you look at "The Blue Dress" image on my website, you can see there are many miles to go between the beginning and the finishing of a piece.  And this has been a story of how it usually begins.

*Leaving Again/In The Wee Small Hours of the Morning
Music improvised by Keith Jarrett
Lyric by Kurt Elling, based on Keith Jarrett's untitled improvisation from his 1994 trio recording, "At The Blue Note,"
Kurt Elling, Vocals, Laurence Hobgood, Piano.
And although I don't know if it's alright to say, you can listen to it at


Laurence in Israel

I admire my brother so, more than any other.  He's a gifted pianist, composer, and writer.  He tours the world, playing jazz. Watching and listening to him make music is inspiring.  I hope to be as good an artist as he is a musician some day. I always wonder what people are thinking as they experience live music.  In a different way, I'm so curious about what happens in the viewer's mind when they look at my photographs.  I spend a great deal of time thinking about both these things.  I'm reading "Selected Writings of Gertrude Stein," and this morning read an account of an American woman in Paris around 1915 and an interaction with the painter Henri Matisse, whose wife was apparently a very good wife and also his model.  The American woman ...made Matisse blush by cross-questioning him about the different ways he saw Madame Matisse,  how she looked to him as a wife and how she looked to him as a picture, and how he could change from one to the other...  That's very much like my questions about listeners, and viewers, turned inside.

Also this morning, my brother sent me a picture of himself in Israel where he's on tour.  His schedule is full of places where I wonder in a more abstract way what his audiences are thinking, as his destinations are so far away and unknown to me.  Tel Aviv, Milan, Paris, Hamburg, Budapest, and Bielsko-Biala in Poland. 



I took this picture of my grandmother for one of my first college photo class assignments.  Celia Jordan was teaching us about light... which of course is where every lesson on photography begins.  It was the fall of 1984, and Nana was 85 years young.  I've been thinking very much of her... her birthday was just a few days ago.  She was born May 20th, 1899.


A Picture Book

People ask about my work, about how I make such simple things so compelling. I think I learned language and seeing as the same thing...so for me, I make photographs like one would write a story, perhaps. Of course this is true of many artists. My father was my largest creative influence. Here is a book of pictures he made for my mother, full of his style.


My mother in 1950

I love this photograph of my mother at 21. I wonder what she was up to that day, wearing a towel in the backyard. Sunbathing, I imagine. Pretty Mama.