What can one say about Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places that hasn’t already been said by someone more qualified, more intimately familiar, more theoretically grounded, more generally knowledgable?
If you haven’t held this book in your hands and flipped slowly through the images, you owe it to yourself to do so, one day.
I bought this book almost a year ago, after finding a copy of Shore’s American Surfaces in a used bookstore and falling in love with his deadpan aesthetic and masterful framing. I’ve tried, and failed, to give it a proper review more than once, and I can’t do it justice, really.
After years on the road with a Roller 35 and a flash, photographing everything he ate, everywhere he slept, etc. for the series that became American Surfaces, Shore switched to 4×5 and then to 8×10 for the road trips and photographs that became Uncommon Places. The photographs in this book are different and have more interesting formal concerns (I think), concerns with edges and sub-frames and lines and how many distinct planes can be fitted into an 8×10 frame.
If you’ve read anything about Shore, you probably already know all that.
The book version is large and a little bit unwieldy to just sit and examine. It really requires a table, I think. If it were perhaps 20% smaller, it might be just right, though, really, at even that modest a reduction, you’d lose so much detail from images: an 8×10 inch negative contains massive amounts of data.
In any case, find a copy and get it. You won’t be sorry.