grist for the mill

On the way home from the store tonight I was listening to the radio and happened on an interview with photographer David Plowden. I was immediately taken with both his and interviewer Kurt Anderson's easy, candid manner. So often these interviews seem staged and stilted; this felt like a real conversation.

I especially loved this part:
KA: Photographer David Plowden called himself a wharf rat for all the time he spent on the banks of the East River. That's where we met up recently, at a park that was his boyhood hangout in the 1930's and '40's. He explained that during the summers, though, his family took him to Vermont and that's where he fell in love with trains and steam locomotives.

DP: Well the first picture I ever made was when I was eleven, and that was a picture of the train in the station in Putney. Well the first time I went to photograph it I got buck fever, and I handed the camera to my mother and said, "Here, you take it," and I started to shake. Well the next time I went down I was steadier, so I managed to get a picture. I still have it. So I really started to photograph in 1958, '59...

KA: Really! So you were in your twenties.

DP: That's right.

KA: Before we get there, though, you kept indulging your love of trains, you rode all over the place.

DP: I rode all over the place, to the despair of my uncles and aunts and my mother's friends who said, "What's he going to amount to? He rides trains!" And she said, "I don't know what he's doing, but he does. Leave him alone. He's gathering grist for the mill." She was my champion. And I did ride trains, I rode them all over the place.

KA: And was there any destination in mind, or were you just riding?

DP: No. I was just riding. Absolutely. You said it. The destination didn't matter.
It's even better heard with the wonderful intonations of Plowden's voice -- you can listen here. And see more of his work here.