Hall of Mirrors

July 28, 2010 § Leave a comment

In 1976 or 1977 there were no personal computers, no digital cameras, no Photoshop, and no self-publishing with Snapfish or AdoramaPix. But I wanted a book, and the office where I worked had a comb-binding machine and a selection of Press Type. So I gathered together some prints and made Hall of Mirrors. Those were my street photography years. I was looking at Cartier-Bresson, Danny Lyon, Constantine Manos, Helen Levitt . . . the gods of the street. I stalked county fairs, demonstrations, and parades, always on the lookout for Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment.” The archetypal street camera was the Leica, because it was small and quiet and unobtrusive. They were also expensive. A second-hand Nikon F was more in my price range, and I used it for most of these photos, even though it was big and bulky and attracted a lot of attention with its noisy shutter. I did eventually buy a Leica, but oddly enough it came just as my street days were ending. Poking a camera at people suddenly seemed like an imposition, and I went on to other things. Hall of Mirrors has travelled around with me for more than 30 years, and it shows the wear.  I’m going to scan the images and make a “real” book with them on Snapfish. It will be more tidy, but I’m not sure that anything will match the pleasure of wrestling with the first version and completing it against the odds. I put this quote from Rilke on the title page: “It was simply like that. The main thing was being alive. That was the main thing.” Well, at least that hasn’t changed.

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