Before I began doing such interviews in Long Branch (Toronto not New Jersey), I would never have imagined how much can be learned through extensive interviews, extending over several years, with local residents.
The interviews, especially as I’ve been doing more of them and have a sense of the territory that I seek to cover, which influences and drives the questions that I ask, serve for me as a form of lighting.
By lighting, I speak in figurative or metaphorical terms. This is a powerful form of lighting. Among other things, such lighting provides a source of energy – a source of motivation and drive – which in my experience is a key thing in getting things done.
A light is cast – by the interview subjects, in recorded conversations – that has the quality and function of bringing into vision, metaphorically speaking, three-dimensional forms and living, breathing characters (individuals as well as families as characters), buildings, streets, entire communities, and natural landscapes and landforms from the past that a person would not be able to perceive, in quite the same way, through other means.