Roaming with Todd Hido
This snapshot was taken by one of my oldest and dearest friends, Chris McCall. We met when I was just a cheeky high school student with illusions of becoming an important photographer. He taught me just about everything I know about photography. He had three rules that I still remember: no pictures of your own feet, puppies, or homeless people. Chris has since gone on to become the Director of Pier 24 Photography, which he has turned into what I believe to be one of the most important photo spaces in the world.
Their most recent exhibition, HERE presents a selection of works produced by Bay Area photographers and a range of images of our storied San Francisco. One of my favorite moments in the show is a wall of Todd Hido’s haunting images of suburban advancement:
Todd also took the image of me in Chris’ snapshot above. At a recent dinner, I had to sheepishly admit to his gallerist that I knew Todd as a result of a fan-letter I sent him when I was just 18 years old. Chris had shown me his work, and I remember writing this devoted and tragically teenage letter to Todd that waxed-poetic on the impact his work had on me. Todd is an infinitely kind person, and indulged me with a meeting. We ended up shooting together, and years later one of the images we took on that day resurfaced in Geoff Dyer’s beautiful collection of essays:
At the time, fashion wasn’t really on my radar, so I’m pictured a pink stretch bandeau that I bought at a market in Italy with Joseph’s mom for 3 euros. I remember I was also wearing a black jean skirt that had definitely seen better days. I was nervous and awkward in front of the camera, but somehow Todd persevered and managed to produce a handful of images that I still cherish today.
It’s sad that we lose some of that boldness and childish recklessness as we grow older. I don’t think I’d send anyone fan-mail today, though there are plenty of people that I am fanatical about. It’s a shame, really, considering that my silly note resulted in some great photographs and a new friendship. Seeing 18 year-old me in that ridiculous pink bandeau was a much-needed reminder to “stay hungry & stay foolish.”