Seen In The Mission is a series of interviews with photographers and videographers, professional or not, who capture moments in the Mission. Know someone who should be featured? E-mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Gerard Livernois, who goes by the name GerardSF on Flickr, takes a moment to talk photography. The longtime Mission Local Flickr pool contributor is currently working on images of Ishi, a Native American man known as the last member of the Yahi people, for ActivSpace’s open studios in the fall.
Mission Local: Tell us about yourself. Where are you from and how long have you lived in San Francisco?
Gerard Livernois: Moving often as a teen, from Pawtucket, R.I. to Worcester, Mass. to Indianapolis, Ind. and back to Worcester helped me notice social differences expressed in the environment. Then I moved here in 1997 after ten years in Southern California.
The first photo I shot was in a weeded schoolyard of my friend Bobby Gerber. It was a black and white photo we developed in a grade school art class. I’ve tried other messy mediums and I’m currently trying to put some prints on wood. After years of using Photoshop I abused a couple mid-range digital cameras and now am fortunate to have something, which comes pretty close to capturing what I see.
ML: What inspires you to take photos?
The opportunity to add to a visual record in its own language is my attempt to capture the present and offer it to the future; or I need to slow the world down to gain some understanding.
I miss many shots just for my personal experience — like the way a brand new wallet looks with a homeless man or the picture of temple in the hands of someone dressed in native designs. Often I don’t want to intrude on someone where my behavior may change theirs.
ML: Any favorite subjects or areas in the city?
GL: Architectural features which show an era; the fog and what it reflects under it; the effects of wind, and the way nature is a great part of city life.
ML: Visually, what’s different about the Mission that you enjoy photographing?
GL: It’s the one area of the City where I can find some nicely contrasting shadows while the sun melts colors. I’d also love to capture more church interiors before they’re gone.
ML: You have a lot of pictures of Sutro Tower. Can you explain why?
GL: That TV antenna in the dense Sutro Forest is at the center of an enormous, beautiful phenomenon. When the fog rolls over barren Twin Peaks then crashes into Liberty Hill on one side and is caught by the undertow of Sutro Forest on the other, the 917-foot fog scraper is entwined in a massive lace and pillow delivery — a show made for the Mission. Other times there is always some action on the horizon with the beautiful silhouette of eucalyptus on Mount Sutro against a soft orange backdrop.
What I only have a few shots of, and a misplaced file, is the most extraordinary three dimensional shadows of Sutro Tower cast on moving fog. Harold Gilliam wrote about how the dense eucalyptus, pine and cypress of the now gone ridge of Sunset Heights (now Golden Gate Heights) would create the Spector of the Brocken, which is a similar apparition maker in Germany.
Built to improve television reception in the city where television was invented, someday it may outlive its use and stand as a monument to Television. For now, more white pods will be shortly showing up along the sides for Internet service. And as each year passes its architectural reflections of the early 70’s become more evident and part of nature.
ML: What’s your day job?
GL: I do some promotions work, acting gigs when they come, cook for friends, sell a few things on Etsy and from the lobby of ActivSpace, but I would love a reliable income!