Out of the 12 photographers selected for the Guggenheim Fellowship, we were to research the work of three that resonated most deeply with us.
I was immediately struck by Mr. Corey’s images as they looked familiar…and once I read his project statement I can see why: The Strand all imagery of the Great Lakes and I grew up there, in Ohio, but with trips to Illinois and Wisconsin over the years too. The Strand immediately made me nostalgic. In this and his past projects I see a connection to my own work, especially the book Rancher, or the Red Owl, SD project, perhaps also in Blue – Portrait of an American Worker.
I do like the picture of the rancher with the horse, and all the rancher portraits in general. A lot of his portraits are posed and very formal; it’s not something I do much myself, I tend to shoot more off the cuff but I think I could benefit from this approach a little bit. Usually their entire body is included in the frame whereas I usually cut something off, something that I’m getting complaints about from classmates.
Ms. Garza-Cuen talks of Imag[in]ing America as “…a series of locations in the United States as a residue of cultural memory, an inheritance. It is a metaphorical memoir, a narrative re-telling of facts and fictions and it is also a discovery of the dreamland that still is America.” This definitely coincides with what I’m doing, I think. Plus, her portrait appears to be shot on wet plate and has her posing with a large format camera. What’s not to love there?
I think the picture that definitely drew me in was the one from Buffalo, WY, with deer and antelope heads surrounding a wall-mounted TV playing a western movie (Carl Corey had something similar). Another favorite from that series is the portrait of the one-handed cowboy. Ms. Garza-Cuen’s work diverges from my own in that she seems to be photographing decaying landscapes where Colorado Springs (and the state in general) is in a population boom at the moment. I love the portraits of everyday people living in small towns.
Mr. Kayafas’ new book is to be titled The Way West and seems to be showing the Western culture in the same way that I’m attempting. On the Guggenheim page the second picture in the series was taken up in Cripple Creek, so of course I had to pick this guy. A place only half an hour away and I still hardly ever go there. He’s got pictures dated back to 2006 for this project, so evidently this is a long-term project for him. I see from looking at his other work that he started The Way West before a few of his past projects, but judging by the dates he must shoot several projects concurrently.
There’s a lot of good street photography there, and I like seeing the shots of people taken from behind. I have no idea how to take a picture of someone from behind and make it at all interesting. Looking at his People of New York project and the fact that’s a square ratio, I assume he was using a 6×6 TLR to shoot those, just like Vivian Maier did. Another project I’m really drawn to is the Coney Island Water Dance, especially because as he mentioned, he got into the frigid water to get up close and personal with the polar bear club members. The immediacy of the high shutter speed when you see the individual drops of water flying high through the air grabs me.