Jul 20, 2009

denver (x2)

the majority of my education in photography has come through books. not technical books, but monographs. pouring over great (and not so great) work at every opportunity. i would guess that i'm not alone. with every image i make, every piece i assemble into an eventual whole, i realize that the book is the end all. it's what all of the fussing is about.

over the past few years, i've seen many books that have taken me a while to see clearly. i wasn't ready for them, and the benefit of their worth didn't come immediately. didn't come easy. initially, i felt this way about Robert Adams. i came to photography late, and sadly, Adams even later. first, Cottonwoods and Turning Back confused me. i knew there was something powerful there, but i couldn't put my thumb on it. i couldn't explain it. i wasn't ready. it wasn't until i first saw Summer Nights and shortly thereafter The New West that it all came together. crashing. it took those vastly different bodies of work to see the similarities clearly, and therefore see what i was missing.




a couple weeks ago, Dennis and i sat at his kitchen table with the first, as well as the most recent, editions of Adams' denver. it was the first time i had seen either edition. over a drink, we went simultaneously, page by page, through both volumes in order to experience the new edit that Adams had assembled so many years later. lingering, every time a new image, or spread was introduced. double checking for stuck pages when an image was omitted. going back and forth to make sense of it. he is generous with his rationing of information this time around.



the printing quality of the new edition is unquestionably superior as well. there are details that are simply lost in the original. a lamp here, the view through a window there, and the edition of a handful of night photos give the work considerably more depth. i imagine they weren't an option with the earlier printing. Adams' work is light.



having lived in Colorado for ten years, there is no mistaking where he is standing, or what time of day it is, or that (regardless of the subject matter) he is taking the utmost of care in every image.

in October, Summer Nights is being reissued by Aperture, with an extended edit. the education continues.


© Robert Adams from Summer Nights

3 comments:

snowgecko said...

oh, thank you for the introduction to Robert Adams. I love these photos!!

Pod said...

i'm actually flying to denver to do a course in two weeks...anything i should do/see?

ben huff said...

pod,
you'll love Denver. i haven't been in several years. definitely go see the new modern at museum - here it's tops.
also, go to Camera Obscura Gallery on Bannock and then walk over to Pints for a glass of scotch (something like 75 brands to choose from)
also, check out Mark Sink's gallery across the interstate - North West of downtown.
also, Sante Fe Ave was really getting to be a hot strip of galleries when i moved away a six years ago. i'm sure there is a lot going on there now.
but, most of all, go west into the mountains, away from the crowds, and get lost.

 
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