“It’s Never Too Late”, Geoffrey Winningham, VADA

All of my work in photography is aimed at pulling it all into book form. Just like a writer would be thinking of writing a novel or a book of poems, I’m very oriented toward my finished product. For 11 years, from 1984-1995, I photographed Mexican fiestas. It was a very long project, in which I traveled as many as 20 times to Mexico, to the most remote parts of Mexico, photographing these ancient festivals that survive today.  I spent so long doing it, had so much work to draw from, that the book was very difficult for me to bring together. I did the best I could. Had it been published the way I wanted it, it would have been a good enough book. But I entrusted the final editing to someone else, and that was a huge mistake.     When the book came out, it was a great disappointment. It was a disappointment in the beginning, and the longer I looked at it, the more disappointing it was. It was such a long, serious project for me and it came together in what I saw, and still see, as such a relatively mediocre work — clearly my worst piece of work, but the one that I spent the longest time on. That was a huge disappointment. And how did I respond to that? By the time the book was out, I was already working on something else. I just tried to say to myself, “It’s dumb, look ahead, do better next time.” The book came out in 1997, so now 17 years later I’m actually going to spend time going back to this huge body of photographs, to re-edit, and re-shape the work into a different kind of book. My reaction is not that it’s over. I think I can still salvage the photos and create a different finished product.   At the time, my reaction was that it at least had a great introduction. Actually, the guy that wrote the introduction ended up winning the Nobel prize — so I look back to the star-studded introduction and hope to make a whole book that I can be proud of. It’s never too late.