Monday, March 31, 2008

(the) Americans

Just wanted to encourage folks to read this amazing article on Robert Frank. If you're not familiar with his 1958 book The Americans, you need to run out and find it right now. The first copy I ever got a hold of was at the county library where I requested it with an interlibrary loan - how awesome are libraries. I ended up with a copy published in 1969, an edition that will set you back about 350 bucks just about anywhere you find it. Library! Free! Books! Yes!

Lucky for us though, a new edition is coming out, and it's only 26 bucks!!! I'm quite excited. I've been talking with a lot of people lately about the idea of "straight photography," and Frank's work in The Americans is a perfect example of just how deeply one can descend into a deep document of an entire culture simply with a 35mm lens.

Read the article, check out the book, you won't be sorry.

Here's a little taste of one of the many gems of explanation (or un-explanation) Frank provides the author of the article:

“It amazes me,” he said. “It’s a book of such simplicity, really. It doesn’t really say anything. It’s apolitical. There’s nothing happening in these photos. People say they’re full of hate. I never saw that. I never felt that. I just went out to the street corners and looked for interesting people. O.K., I looked for the extremes, but that’s because the mediocre, the middle, it’s bland and that bores me.

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