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The Americans, we become acquainted in 1989 at the George Eastman House in Rochester. Eastman, Rochester? Yes indeed, the city in upstate New York where at that time Kodak’s headquarters and factories flourish. And home of the International Museum of Photography and Film where I immerse myself three days in the history of photography: in the morning visits to the library, and the afternoon … in the afternoon the Holy of Holies, the print room – access by appointment only. You can take nothing with you inside, on request you’re provided with paper and pen (pardon – pencil only permitted), and white cotton gloves are required to handle the photographs but all photos are original prints. I see one photography icon after another, photos that I only know from books. And because the staff of the print room has fun in their newly graduated overseas visitors, they also bring portfolios from the vault I didn’t asked for, portfolios of work by photographers that I do not know, but that they suspect that will appeal to me.
This way I get for example acquainted with the work of Lee Friedlander and I buy Like a One-Eyed Cat in the bookstore of the George Eastman House. The influence of American photography history with Frank, Friedlander et al is tangible in the years tha follow and many visits to the U.S., especially in New York follow. In 1993, I exhibit and publish my
Stadsstillevens & Streetstills.
More than twenty years later, the USA and the photography of American origin again play an important role in my life and work. On the eve of a trip across America, coast to coast, along with my daughter who is currently studies history in Ann Arbor (Michigan), it’s the history of American photography that inspires once more. The black and white from the past and from my own work has been replaced by color, one of the new inspirations is Stephen Shore. Somewhere in my bookcase is an older book with an overview of his work, but recently I purchased the classic Uncommon Places was given to me (the reprint of a few years ago, with previously unpublished photos).
The book is the result of several trips across America and reflected according to the blurb, the “essence of the American landscape.”
Monumental is the first thing that comes to mind, not only in terms of the size of the book, but it is also a monument to the history of photography, with its rarely seen, bright and penetrating view, a view that transforms everyday places (‘commonplace’) to another reality, with stunning colors nd fabulously performed. Concerning the latter, Shore worked with a large format view camera, but do I want to follow his line of of work and bring a large format or panoramic camera? Or does the upcoming trip needs a complete other tool? The question about what kind of camera has the appearance of photographers-talk, but the real question is what do I want … Ultimately, it is another book of Shore which helps me to determine my thoughts. Read the next post ‘Point & Shoot’ to see how it ends …