Here’s something I bet you’ve never heard anyone say before: there just aren’t enough hours in the day to do all the things we want to do! OK, I guess everyone has said that before. I taught myself to play the guitar as a teenager, but never got beyond playing open chord rhythm accompaniment. Once I got “good enough” to passably sit in with a group or accompany a singer, I didn’t put the time in to get any better. It just seemed like there were always so many other things to do, whether boring responsibilities, other hobby endeavors, or just being lazy.

Viola #2 – Polaroid Transfer of a friend’s beautiful viola

One of my favorite quotes is from the book The Orchid Thief by Susan Orlean.

“The world is so huge that people are always getting lost in it. There are too many ideas and things and people too many directions to go. I was starting to believe that the reason it matters to care passionately about something is that it whittles the world down to a more manageable size. It makes the world seem not huge and empty but full of possibility.” 

We all have to make choices about how to spend our time. I know how much work it took me to become a barely passable rhythm guitar player, so when I see someone play an instrument like the viola I am amazed. A guitar has frets, which means my fingers can be anywhere behind a certain fret to get a certain tone. And rhythm guitar just requires playing a chord and strumming, not fingering individual notes. A viola and similar instruments are fretless, so it takes precise placement of the fingers to get the right note. I won’t pretend to know all the subtleties of viola playing, but I know just barely enough to be impressed by anyone who can play it.

This viola is a friend’s who played for the local symphony. A mutual friend commissioned me to photograph it to present him with photographs for display as a gift for his birthday. I shot the original on 35mm slide film, then exposed it to Polaroid peel-apart film and transferred to printer’s paper, resulting in this image. I then scanned the 3×4 inch Polaroid transfer to produce a 12 x 16 inch image on 13×19 inch archival cotton paper.

Prints are available in the shop right here.