Stephen Shore -The Nature of Photographs

So I read the book then watched the video. Then I did a post about the video, and now I am doing a post about the book. Yeah, it must be great to be Stephen Shore,  he has pretty much been a photography star since he could only crawl around with a camera. And he constructs a good book too. Very enjoyable, east to read – informative.

It is interesting to read his views about photography – even if he makes the kind of images you don’t. He reflects that photography is inherently an analytic discipline, ‘Where a painter starts with a blank canvas and builds a picture, a photographer starts with the messiness of the world and selects a picture’. I agree to some extent about it being an analytic discipline, but at present (and I can only talk about at present – because my photography may change) my work is created and structured very much like a painting. I may have some finished point in mind, towards which it becomes an experiment to get there, but it isn’t taken from the world – its created separately to appear like the world.

This book makes you consider each element before you click. Many years ago when I was living in Italy and studying Italian, a teacher told me to consider each sentence before I spoke – essentially to think it out before I said it. This resulted in me having to pause for about 45 seconds between each comment, because it took me so long to construct a sentence. So I complained – I said, ‘look I seem like an idiot, I am speaking so slowly cause I have to think about each bit’. The teacher replied that I was only doing in Italian what I should do in English – think before I speak. The fact that I was so used to thinking in English made it quicker- immediate. I would one day get like that with Italian. Shore is like this. For him you can just sense that the almost check list that he has constructed in this book, points to consider – vantage points, flatness, depth, slicing into the world – is so engrained his mind that he doesn’t need to think and construct the sentence – its just a natural language to him. I guess thats the aim.

Oh, and by the way, it never happened with may Italian, so I am hoping it happens with my photographs.


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