Friday, October 10, 2008

American Anxiety

Oh, America! I was having tremendous anxiety about the book...the second guessing of my ordering. But then I got it today and I think the book is tight. It was laid out in a very methodical way, with the hope of allowing multiple readings. And with the hope that some of the more accessible photos would allow people to not immediately turn away from the more difficult photos, the more formal photos, or the more abstract photos. This is not my usual style; I think that people can get the work no matter what. But many of the images are not necessarily the images folks might immediately associate with a book of photos about America and I wanted a way to snare those people with images that would prompt them to check out the book from start to finish.


I love the above spread and I love each individual image. For me, the pairing of these images reflects a lot about of what I saw about America; the scratching and the wearing away to reveal the surface underneath, and the reversed colors. They follow Kellie and Linda, and add resonance to the preceding portraits. Following "Scratches" and "Sticker Removed" are "Together We Make Dreams Come True" and "West Virginia," direct text and a portrait, bringing a viewer back to images that easy to read within the frame on first glance. And, of course, "Scratches" and "Sticker Removed" are a homage to Aaron Siskind's abstract expressionism photos. I think they work on a few different levels... but if "Scratches" and "Sticker Removed" don't pull someone in, there's other images that are more direct and work to communicate the same ideas those images address.


The 3 spreads above are the mid-point of the book, the literal spine. I had these five images locked down before the opening image was chosen.


Check out the above spread. I have always been on the fence about this portrait. I like it, but it's never been in my top ten. I chose it for the book for a few reasons...first, because Lynn Bloom loves it and has expressed that it's one of her favorites. And the publisher also really digs it, he wanted it on a page by itself. Lynn Bloom knows my MO, and if she feels strongly about an image, I will consider it. It ended up that this portrait filled a void I felt the book had, and I think it's placed in the right spot.

For me, I find that the gender confusion creates more weight for this portrait... you can't be certain without a caption or description whether this person is a man or a boy or a woman or a girl. The gender ambiguity, the age of the person, along with the direct, impassive gaze made this portrait an important inclusion in America. Thanks to the world's greatest lady friend, Lynn Bloom, for pointing it out.

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