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Farms 16/60, 1981


Baby Ribs 1983

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photo albums 1978 - 1984

I started doing these little photo books in about 1978 and quit in about 1984 reason being that we moved from our house on 53'rd Street where I had a darkroom to the house in New Berlin where I didn't have a darkroom. I think I still did color photos for a while. But the whole photo book thing just kind of petered out because all the stuff for doing the books was in boxes and most of it didn't get unpacked. So that was that. But I did maybe 200 books, thing being that I put all the shots I did, no matter how bad into books. The books became sort of an adjunct or extension of my life. It seemed like if I stopped doing the books, I would be less alive. But I did stop the books and kept on living.

One of the recurring themes in these photos is my failure to capture the "decisive moment" as Henri Cartier Bresson called it. I think I was more or less in documentary mode, wanting to capture my environment in special moods. As it worked out, special moments in my environment and times when I had a camera handy never seemed to coincide. It seemed that whenever I did have my camera at hand, the world happened to be in a prosaic state. The only exceptions to these repeated failures to capture the special moment came in the house and yard type photos where the camera would be within reach. And I sort of surrendered to this inability to lay in wait with my camera for special moments by resigning myself to shooting dull pictures. What I discovered was that even intrinsically dull stuff can be moderately interesting if you have a collection of it in the form of maybe half a dozen pictures. It's not that any of it is interesting, but the mind when presented with a collection of anything will try to find a pattern, a story to go with this collection and infuse it with meaning. So that "What a dull picture" becomes transformed into "Hey, what an interesting collection of dull stuff."

In any case, it didn't matter, I was compelled to photograph my corner of the world, knowing that any obsession no matter how unappealing eventually becomes interesting to other people if for no other reason than its obsessiveness.

The format I settled on for these books was a little typed intro followed by the photos dry mounted on heavy art paper. I had a regular production line set up for them. Cut up reams of mounting paper, punched holes in the edge, etc etc. How obsessive.

Anyway, I had this old IBM proportional spacing typewriter with a one time ribbon on a spool. Probably cost a mint new but I think I got it for about $20 used at work. Typed real professional looking stuff - this was before computers, and I used it to do the intros for my little books. Stream of consciousness, no retyping, I edited in pencil sometimes. Anyway, that's the text at the head of each photo collection. Anyway, enjoy. I did.