The first photographer Stephen Shore is a US photographer. He talks on his website about a Road Trip project that he undertook in 1972 following Route 66 from Flagstaff to Chicago called “American Surfaces”. He took a similar approach to many other photographers including Ed Ruscha’s “Twentysix Gasoline Station”s, Joel Meyerowitz’s “Still Going” and Victor Burgin “US77”. Shore like others photographed the familiar:
however what is interesting in terms of my work is the following quotation from Shore:
“I thought of myself as an explorer. Growing up in Manhattan you don’t have a car. Cars are a headache there, so I never learned to drive. My friends in Amarillo were driving at sixteen. When I learned it was a liberating experience. I could get into a car and have a credit card in my pocket and I could just go – go for days. It was the sense of freedom and independence that I loved. I found that after a few days of driving behind the wheel and watching with attention as this world kept passing by, I entered a kind of meditative state. My mind became quiet and I became very focused.”
Shore talks about his focus and sense of calm on the open road. I too enjoy both the focus and serenity when I have a camera in my hands and the beauty and scale of the Cuillin on the Isle of Skye in my sights. In my case I prefer to do much of my travelling by foot which is possible on the Road to Elgol. I see the road from a different perspective and notice vignettes and views not visible from the car. The other aspect of Shore’s work that I find interesting is the photographing of the familiar and the ordinary. I need to do more thinking about whether this aspect is relevant to my project.
I have revisited David Campany’s book “The Open Road” and reminded myself of the work of Lee Friedlander and his project “American Monument” concentrating on one subject as the title suggests. This work was suggested to me by my tutor for Positions and Practice and I will have another try at a Road Trip approach on my next visit to the Isle of Skye. I am also going to look further at the work of Joel Sternfeld’s “American Prospects”.
I have reminded myself of the imagery of Bill Brandt, who worked largely in monochrome, and loved to record the english landscape amongst an eclectic mix of other photographic work. His style is interesting for me as his work also has a slightly thriller-like and menacing quality. I think he achieves this through intense contrast, a command of light and shade and capturing dramatic sky-scapes. I have selected a few of his landscape images to show here:
The work of Fay Godwin is very interesting to me and again a quote from Godwin gives a sense of similarity and inspiration for me:
“My way into photography was through family snaps in the mid-1960’s. I had no formal training, but after the snaps came portraits, reportage, and finally, through my love of walking, landscape photography, all in black and white. A Fellowship with the National Museum of Photograph in Bradford led to urban landscape in colour, and very personal close-up work in colour has followed.”
Her monochrome landscape images will prove extremely helpful as I move forward with my project. Below is a selection of her work:
I have more research to do next week in becoming more sure footed in placing my image making within the context of other photographers’ work but am really excited with progress on this.
Campany, D (2014 ), The Open Road – Photography and the American Road Trip, Aperture, New York