by David Miller
Loveland, Ohio – Joe Timmerman seems to be awfully young to be so old-school, but he’s both. I got reacquainted with him underneath the home-team basket at a winter basketball game in the Chuck Schmidt Gymnasium at Loveland High School. A Senior at the time, Joe had also been taking photos of the action and he came over and sat down on the floor with me and introduced himself,
He wanted to know if I would publish some of his photographs in Loveland Magazine.
His old-schoolness was when he described his approach to using film cameras and in very creative ways.
I was fascinated by his love of negative film and how sometimes he would be very deliberate in shooting a roll of 35 mm negatives in a way that each captured portrait could be used as the foreground for another image. The second image, a double exposure, involved Joe re-loading the already exposed roll of negatives back into his camera and then exposing a second image over the top of each of the portraits he shot on the first go-around.
The results Joe showed me were a wonderful experiment in photography because of the hit/miss nature of composing a second image over the first. There is also the mastery of the correct exposure for each frame. Many of the double-exposures were taken of his girlfriend on their walks into Historic Downtown Loveland from his home. The final products have a rather ghost-like quality.
I had given up film as soon as I purchased my first digital camera to use for Loveland Magazine reporting. It was out of the necessity to cut costs and be able to have the results almost instantly on my laptop and into a story. From my perspective after so many years of traveling to a camera store to buy the film, traveling back again to have the film developed and prints made, and back again for pick-up – Joe is old-school.
I also discovered that night under the basketball hoop that I had known Joe since he was very little but didn’t recognize him. We once attended the same church. I was inspired by Joe that night and did some of my own experiments.
Joe’s old-schoolness even involved making his own paper from scratch for a photo project during his first year at Ohio University.
Joe’s old-schoolness is also how he will credit the way his parents raised him for his concern for the immediate environment around him. I think it more than just that though and appreciate another old-school quality he possesses – Joe is very humble always giving credit to others and he is generous with a “Thank you.”
Joe founded “A Neighborhood Cleanup” in 2019. The inspiration was walking in the East Loveland Nature Preserve with his mother and seeing so much trash left by other visitors. He says that growing up his father taught him to always pick up trash when he sees it, especially in his own neighborhood and the places he loves. Last August A Neighborhood Cleanup cleaned the nature preserve and another spot he loved, the rope swing on the bank of the Little Miami just north of Nisbet Park in Historic Downtown.
Joe has been back to cleaning the rope swing area this spring and last Saturday expanded the cleanup to include the river from Nisbet Park to the rope swing on the opposite river bank – along Cones Road.
An interesting note is that Loveland’s most famous old-school photographer Nancy Ford Cones once lived at the Roads Inn Farm on Cones Road when she took her famous Loveland photos, Her favorite subjects were family and friends she posed on those same river banks that Joe and friends are now restoring to their intended beauty. The Loveland Musem Center has a nice collection of Cone’s photos and many of them have an ethereal, ghost-like quality similar to Joe Timmerman’s double exposures.
This interview took place along the riverbank Joe and volunteers were cleaning last Saturday afternoon.
Joe inspires his own generation, those to come, and those beyond.
“Like” and “follow” A Neighborhood Cleanup on FaceBook and you will be able to support the efforts and know when the next group cleanup is planned. You might also contact Joe and offer to donate garbage bags and gloves as a way of helping.
Here is a link to Joe’s photography website where you can read more about him and see some of his inspiring art.
Read about the June 2 cleanup at the rope swing…