Homing In is Todd Hido’s second B-Sides Box Set, featuring outtakes (and some also-rans) from his “file labelled Orphans & Misfits,” all printed on baseball card-sized cardstock and housed in an archival box.
Hido is well-known (to me, anyway) for mining his archive for projects. Each new project tends to contain photographs from the Hido’s entire archive. Now, in a recent review of 2018’s Bright Black World, I claimed it to be a sharp break with his earlier work… but in flipping through the Homing In cards, I found at least seven pictures that appear in Bright Black World, so it’s perhaps not so far removed from earlier work as I thought. (I should go back and add an addendum… and I did.)
There are also a couple of photographs in Homing In that appear in Hido’s On Landscapes, Interiors, and the Nude. So these aren’t all Orphans & Misfits. Most may be B-sides or Alt-takes—I’d like to see a collection of Hido contact sheets one day—but some appeared in other Hido books, both from the past (perhaps not his monographs or major bodies of work, but certainly from his larger body of published work) and many, roughly an seventh, found their way into later work.
Still, Homing In hits all the Hido notes: suburban homes and apartment complexes at night, Khrystyna, empty interiors, wet windshield-blurred landscapes, all just dripping with nostalgia and everything we (I) love about Hido. They make me want to spend money I don’t have buying wildly expensive, out of print, monographs.
But I resist.
In theory, I like these B-Sides Box Sets. They’re a great window into a photographer’s working process, especially seen alongside their previously-published work (not that I’ve seen a huge amount of Hido or Templeton’s other work). The size of the photographs is wonderfully intimate and it’s great fun to sit and flip through the cards. With Ed Templeton’s Loose Shingles, I praised the printing quality. I could see the grain and really peer deep into the photographs. But many of Hido’s pictures suffer a bit at this size. I think it comes down to negative size: Templeton shoots mostly 35mm, with some 120. Hido shoots more medium and large format, and high-resolution digital (as far as I know). A 35mm negative frame is about 1/4 the size of one of the prints on the cards; a 6×7 medium format negative is slightly narrower and slightly taller than one of the cards; a D800 file is much much much much larger (though in a completely immaterial way), so a good bit of downsampling occurred to get the pictures down to this size. The pictures that were shot on a 126 camera are fine: sharp enough and detailed. Almost everything else is a little bit muddy, not very sharp, and with very little detail.
My copy of Homing In is number 927 of 1000, so there are probably plenty left (at time of writing), and at $35, they’re a cheap addition to your Hido collection. But if you really want to experience Hido’s work, I suggest picking up a copy of Intimate Distance, the Aperture retrospective. You can find them used for not much more than the B-Sides box, and the quality of the printing lets you really get into the photographs.