What comes first–the idea for a project, or the images themselves?
Over the course of her career, curator and lecturer Sasha Wolf has heard countless young photographers say they often feel adrift in their own practices, wondering if they are doing it the “right” way. She was inspired to seek insight from a wide range of photographers about their approaches to making photographs, and, more important, a sustained body of work. Their responses are compiled in PhotoWork: Forty Photographers on Process and Practice. Below, twelve artists respond to the first question in the interview series:
@ Robert Adams
"I shot about 450 rolls of film, all up and down the Front Range, mostly in the Denver area, though. And the work from that sat under—I printed it all and mounted every print, but it sat under my work table for about—whatever it was—I m
“I shot about 450 rolls of film, all up and down the Front Range, mostly in the Denver area, though. And the work from that sat under—I printed it all and mounted every print, but it sat under my work table for about—whatever it was—I mean, like 20-some years.”
For more than four decades, Robert Adams’s landscape photographs have reminded us of what has been lost in America, and what endures.
Robert Adams’s succinct preface to his 2010 book of photographs “What Can We Believe Where?” begins with uplift: “In common with many photographers,” he writes, “I began making pictures because I wanted to record what supports hope: the untranslatable mystery and beauty of the world.” Adams’s aim was true. Look at one of his photographs and you’ll see a record of mystery and beauty. The photographic elements are simple. Bright sunlight, generally; crisp shadow; the occasional moody nocturne. We feel as if we are being taught to see with a visual primer. Better yet, turn the pages of one of his books (he has made more than 50) or walk around an exhibition of his work, inhabiting the flow of his decisions. You are likely to feel your breath getting calmer and your senses quietened.
Robert Adams is preeminent among the many photographers who have concerned themselves with the urban development of the once-wild lands of the American West. He began to photograph on the Colorado high plains in 1965, and the subjects of his broad body of work have included the spreading of tract houses along the Rockies; strip malls, parking lots, freeways, cheap motels and garishly lit discount houses; abused land and brutalized animals; the defunct orange estates of outer Los Angeles; the ruined forests of coastal Oregon, and the adult and child citizens of the new West as he finds them, often enough, marooned in bleak trailer parks or graceless rooms.
Robert Adams wins 2009 Hasselblad Award – Photo-Eye
CLICK NOTE: At first I thought that photo of the award hand-off is so awful… I’d better find something better. Then I thought, no, it’s so bad it’s awesome!
More info can be found on the Hasselblad Foundation website including the transcript from the live chat with Robert Adams that took place earlier today.
5B4: The New West by Robert Adams Aperture reissue
Looking through the new Aperture edition of Robert Adams perfect book The New West, I now realize that Adams, at the same time, was forming his critique of suburban sprawl within the communities and ideals of families like my own.