I was shocked and deeply saddened to learn of John Whitmore’s passing late last month. His DarkShed project, zine series, and printing were inspiring, and the film community has lost a champion.
“Sunny Nunny” is Issue #03 of his Choosing & Losing series. When I subscribed for the first year, and when I decided not to renew my subscription, I had no idea that this would be the last issue, and I’m privileged and fortunate to been a small and distant part of Whimore’s life and photography this past year.
I’ve been mostly honest about both my admiration for what Whitmore was doing and my lack of appreciation for the product of his effort. Issue #00 was deeply personal and a bit too navel-gazing for my liking; Issue #01 was better in that regard; Issue #02 was a great zine; Issue #03 is just as good, maybe even better, and it’s a shame that there won’t be any more.
For “Sunny Nunny,” Whitmore went to his hometown of Nuneaton, where he hadn’t been for 20 years, and took a walk with some FP4 that he pushed to 400. The zine includes images from this walk alongside a poem that reads—in my mind, anyway—like “Casey at the Bat,” all about the walk itself and the changes brought to his town. Altogether, it’s an effective reminder that “you can’t go home again,” though it seems that Nuneaton remained a bit more stable (for Whitmore) than Keller, Texas, does for me, though they’re very different places and we had very different childhoods, it seems. Growing up in exurban Texas in the 1980s and 1990s just is wildly different from UK village life in the same period. There was no real High Street or anything in Keller, not that I could walk or ride a bike to, anyway, and so my memories are more of the neighborhood and surrounding streets: Texas is a car culture.
I didn’t know Whitmore much except through his 4 zines and the couple of comments he left on my reviews. Still, to hear of his sudden passing is shocking and devastating, and I have nothing left to say.
Hug your loved ones and cherish the time you have.
Whitmore’s website remains up. I have no idea if anyone is manning the store, and if I hear of a GoFundMe or any sort of memorial fund, I’ll surely update (and contribute).