We’re sitting in East Nashville’s Edgefield Bar – me a non-writer, and Garland, a longtime acquaintance of mine now finding himself in an unfamiliar Q&A scenario. Put on the spot, he decides to clam up and be modest about his awesomeness. Of course, it doesn’t help that I have no idea what I’m doing, staring at him, waiting for him to tell me stuff. After a few Fat Tires and a lot of me tap-tap-tapping on the laptop, we end the night with a few rounds of darts during which I proceed to get my Imogene-wearing butt handed to me, multiple times.
I was just being nice: I’m a dart shark. Apparently, I’m not bad with a camera, either. At the end of the night, I mention to Garland that I need to take a picture of him for this piece. He hands me his camera, takes off his pants, and jumps over a fence. Seems about right.
Before he got semi-naked and tried to make his escape, I did manage to get a bit more information out of him than I had going in.
Why Polaroids? Garland initially started using them in the late ‘90s to document and remember the night before. Shooting with instant film meant he could wake up with a pant-load of shots the next morning, ready to rehash the previous night and embarrass those he wished to tease. Today, he still shoots almost all of his photos with original Polaroid film. He currently has a personal stock of about 72 packs, none marked with an expiration date after September ’09. After Polaroid stopped producing in 2008, The Impossible Project put out their own version of the film, but Garland claims it’s not quite the same. He’s quite the purist and sticks to using the expired batch he has on hand.
Another creation – spawned from a very creative surge during a bad hangover – was a replica of the monolith from 2001:A Space Odyssey
that he impulsively built in his backyard. After finding that “monolith” had it’s own very informative Wikipedia page, equipped with proper dimensions, Garland found a piece of plywood in his garage that was only a third of an inch off from the given measurements, and said, “Yes. Monolith.” This little piece of science fiction nerd heaven has now been cleverly turned into Garland’s very own super-sonic compost heap…the most badass compost heap, like, ever.
Garland’s latest project is a book that gathers many, many of his collected Polaroids of friends, strangers, movie stills, found objects, and party times. Called Tender Moments, the collection proves that Garland is the ultimate moment-seizer; whether the subject is profane, naked, foul, humping, sweet, living, dead, uneventful, momentous, or just a landscape, he manages to capture the ultimate beauty in everything he shoots. That can be hard to do when what you’re shooting can be hard for some people to look at. But Garland really pulls it off.
We asked Garland to choose some of his favorite shots from the exhibit – his favorite safe-for-work shots, that is (this eliminated a lot of the Tender Moments collection) – and provide us with a little commentary on each. What he gave us is interspersed throughout this story.
One thing’s for sure: This ain’t your granny’s coffee table book.