The Most Famous Pumpkin Patch Photo in the World

Joel Sternfeld McLean Virginia December 1978
McLean, Virginia, December 1978, ©Joel Sternfeld

blazing orange fire
autumn spoils on the ground
more to the story

I dedicate today’s blog in honor of World Photography Day.

I was immediately spellbound by the imagery of this photo that I stumbled upon over a year ago. A few more clicks led me to a fascinating story about photographer Joel Sternfeld, who one day, came upon this fiery scene in McLean, W. Virginia, and snapped the now-iconic photo.

In the photo, we see a fireman shopping for a pumpkin, while a farmhouse burns in the background, a few hundred yards away. In his arms, the fireman clutches his prize, presumably the best of the bunch. In the foreground, dozens of rotting pumpkins spoil and wither away, in what we could consider, Autumn’s last kiss. Amongst the barren trees, the burning farmhouse roof rages like a fiery inferno, yet, the fireman seems undeterred. On this day, the hero’s quest is not put out a fire, but to pick out a pumpkin.

The photo simply titled “McLean, Virginia; December 1978” was first published for Life Magazine in Fall of 1988. It would later serve as the cover for his 1994 book American Prospects, a visual color chronicle of the life and landscapes of America during in 1980s. For many years, the photo floated around the American consciousness, via magazines and journals, without context. When taken at face value, the photo of an American fireman ignoring his duty to peruse a pumpkin patch is quite flabbergasting, some people thought it so incredulous, they believed the photo was staged.

It was neither.

The truth is, the farmhouse fire was a controlled training exercise and the fireman was on a break. That is the scene that Joel Sternfeld photographed while driving cross-country in his VW campervan, under a Guggenheim Fellowship, looking for America’s truth. He kept mum on the details for decades, until opening up for 2004 interview on photography for the Guardian. In the interview, Sternfeld argues photographers are their own authors, capable of manipulations. They can turn the camera at different angles or leave out parts entirely, and tell whatever story they want to tell. Photography has always been about interpretation. That’s what makes it art. In the article, Sternfeld says,

“No individual photo explains anything. That’s what makes photography such a wonderful and problematic medium. It is the photographer’s job to get this medium to say what you need it to say. Because photography has a certain verisimilitude, it has gained a currency as truthful – but photographs have always been convincing lies.”

For years, the worldwide public has relied on pictures to be evidence and visual aids in understanding. A picture says a thousand words.  But what or whose truth are we seeing?

Midsummer Scream – Additional Photos Added

Just letting everyone know that I uploaded Midsummer Scream photos to an album on Imgur.

 

Additional Midsummer Scream 2019 Album found here:

https://imgur.com/a/az45S3x

 

Midsummer Scream 2019 Recap

Midsummer Scream in Long Beach, CA, kicked off the 2019 Halloween season with spooky flair and a fair amount of nostalgia. Now, the largest Halloween and haunt expo on the west coast, this year’s theme was the dark side of Tiki, featuring artwork from world-class artist Jeff Granito and Tiki Terror entryway designed by SoCal’s famed haunt builders, CalHaunts.

Continue reading “Midsummer Scream 2019 Recap”

Haiku of the Week

fresh pumpkin
halloween is coming soon
smiles return

Darkest Before the Dawn

I’ve been struggling with my writing for several days. Weeks, really. The summer blues have had a strangling hold on me this year. I had several ideas on how I wanted to approach this month’s blog post. At one point, I wrote out a long piece about suffering from summer depression. It read like a book report on Seasonal Affective Disorder, and it had nothing to do with Halloween.  As my deadline came and went, guilt followed, then, the shame of failure set in, and soon, it was hard to write anything at all, not even one of my goofy movie lists.

Group therapy 

I belong to a few Halloween groups around the web, wherever I can find like-minded creatures. Halloweenophiles always seem to find each other. It’s nice not to feel the burden of being the weirdo sometimes. It’s a sure bet, the second Halloween merch hits the stores, people post pictures and store locations. We know how to comfort each other, most importantly, we understand why it’s important to do so, no explanation needed.

it's time
©Sam Heimer

Sensing the buzz, off I went, in search of Halloween, looking for pumpkins, skeletons, black cats, and any sliver of orange and black. My local Michael’s did not disappoint.

Continue reading “Darkest Before the Dawn”

Haiku of the Week

familiar smile
pumpkins on the shelf
summer’s end

20190729_073010.jpg

 

Recipe of the Month – Halloween Avocado Toast

It’s the last Friday in July. It’s hot. I don’t even want to think about turning on a stove.

Some people actually dread the early weeks in Fall because they live in states where the weather is hot and humid. Being from SoCal, I understand this.  So, when I came across this Halloween Avocado Toast breakfast idea from Brit + Co., I immediately thought, a fun no-bake recipe that quadruples as a snack, breakfast, lunch or dinner?  This is genius!

Halloween-Avocado-Toast-Recipe-Ingredients

 

Ingredients:

  • 4 avocados
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 sheets of seaweed
  • radishes
  • black olives
  • mini dill pickles
  • grape tomatoes
  • walnuts
  • 1/2 red bell pepper
  • 4 pieces of toast

The entire recipe instructions can be found here: https://www.brit.co/get-in-the-halloween-spirit-with-our-avocado-breakfast-recipe/

Pretty sure this qualifies as crafts project too, since kids will love making little monster faces with all the cool cut veggies.

Halloween-Avocado-Toast-Recipe-finished-tall-3

Bonus: Brit + Co make Halloween Bento Boxes too. We might never have to cook again!