Friday, June 17, 2011

Favorite Photography Books 2

Wright Morris:
The Inhabitants
The Home Place
God's Country and My People

Three great books that pioneered the narrative combination of photographs and words. His photos are straightforward images of life in the midwest through depictions of architecture, barren landscapes, rural townscapes and details and objects of an American way of living in the late depression. They rarely show people, the presence of which is suggested through the depiction of timeworn buildings, tools and belongings. The books share some of the same photos and the texts are quite different in style and point-of-view. The Home Place (1946) reads like an novel and shows a clash of two generations and their values. The text and the pictures seem to integrate with the characters in a very personal way going beyond illustration. The Inhabitants (1948) pairs seemingly unrelated text with photographs and is somewhat abstract enabling the viewer to fill the gaps between the narrative and the photos - ultimately creating a complex portrait of life in the midwest post depression. God's Country and My People (1968) seems to be more of a refinement in style of the other books. Many of the same photos are used and the texts at times seem to make a more direct connection to the photos they are paired with. Ultimately these books form a detailed history of a way of life in America that is personal and maybe more complete than that presented through the Farm Security Administration photo projects.

He also published many novels and there are many other books drawn from this set of 3 books.

Wikipedia's Bio of Wright Morris and a list of his other books.

Wrighht Morris Images

Photo of the week

Otis by Eugene Goodale ⚜
Otis, a photo by Eugene Goodale ⚜ on Flickr.

Cynthia and Otis

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Favorite Photography Books 1

Published in 1976, this book influenced my whole approach to photography. I had seen his work (along with Harry Callahan's) at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts before I had ever thought seriously about making photographs.

Both artists made photographs of their friends, family and surroundings. You didn't have to go somewhere foreign or photograph something spectacular. Their work gave me a license to tell my own story and photograph the things that were happening around me.