The faces and places that give Flagstaff its unique character are on loving display in the new book Walking Flagstaff: A Photo Journal by George Breed. Breed’s wise and insightful collection of photos and writings was released by Flagstaff-based Soulstice Publishing this weekend just in time to be purchased and gifted for the holiday season.
In 2009, Breed was newly retired when he began exploring Flagstaff’s streets, paths and back alleyways on foot. Retired from his previous life as a psychologist, martial artist, Marine and trail hiker, he could roam wherever his spirit and feet took him.
“I had no car and did not want one,” he said. “As I walked, I became friends with Flagstaff’s street people, business owners, politicians, river runners, canyon hikers, buskers, street musicians and photographers, artists of paint and jewelry and acrobatics. I quickly added a camera to my daily stroll, to capture and share what I saw.”
He posted photos to a blog called “Walking Flagstaff,” which later blossomed into a popular Facebook page.
Jake Bacon, chief photographer of the Arizona Daily Sun, considers Breed a mentor.
“What draws me to George’s work is how he approaches his subjects over time, subjects that each of us sees as staples of our community, that we see every day and that, to a degree, fade into the background,” he wrote in the book’s opening essay. “George looks at those subjects with fresh eyes and keeps looking. ... This is what sets George apart. With the simplest of cameras, he sees new ways to capture the beauty all around us.”
Bacon served as photo editor on the book project, sifting through some 4,500 photos, themselves chosen by Breed from a collection of nearly 50,000 images. The final book presents 235 images, plus two dozen of Breed’s short writings about walking and photography.
“Walking produces calmness of mind. Calmness of mind allows clear seeing,” he explained on one page. On another: “I walk around until I stop trying to accomplish something. Then I start taking photos.”