i’ve begun devoting quite a bit more time to photography. i credit the fuji x-t3 for that. and capture one pro.
i went to the library this friday with the grandkids. i picked up this encyclopedia of photographer stephen shore.
what struck me was the ordinariness of his subject matter. ordinary was the word that came to mind when i saw the images in the book. the composition, exposure, focus – all the technical details – were spot on. the images were pleasing to look at, but most were just everyday things in life. vernacular is the word that is used, almost redundantly to a fault, to describe his work. i suppose vernacular gives his work a little more gravity than the word ordinary or everyday. though the subject matter was ordinary, his ability to compose and frame such ordinary subjects into an interesting image is not ordinary. and that was the reason i picked up the book.
a large quantity of the photography in this book is from the 70s and 80s. remarkably, there are sections with images spanning 4 decades side by side, and were it not for the dates, it would be near impossible to determine the time. remarkable feat, that level of consistency.
and surprisingly, shore was scorned and shunned for his inconsistency. he experimented with formats. shot portraits, landscapes, and street. he used monochrome and color films. changed styles as necessary to achieve his photographic goals.
a photographer solves a picture, more than composes one.
whenever i find myself copying myself – making pictures whose problems i’ve already solved – i give myself new issues to pursue.
– stephen shore
i mentioned his images from earlier decades. when he created those images, the subject matter was ordinary. an imprinted credit card slip. the trunk of a car loaded full of stuff. a pancake breakfast in a diner on a paper placemat. the rotary dial telephone. the stuff in those images has changed radically. so much so that the images are no longer ordinary. it’s akin to looking at a piece of pottery from a thousand years ago.
some ordinary photographs
here are some selected ordinary, everyday photos that might be ancient history some day.