Luis Ghirri – ‘Cardboard Landscapes’

In 1975, Arturo Carlo Quintavalle arrived at the Museum of Modern Art in New York with a bundle of photographs from four Italian photographers and an album by Luigi Ghirri called Paesaggi di Cartone: Photographie sud 1971-1973. The Museum happily received the work, logged it, and shoved it all into the archives, never to be seen again. Never, that is, until Quentin Bajac, then the new director of the Department of Photography at MoMA, (probably with the help of some interns) went on a hunt for Ghirri work that he thought might be in the archives somewhere…

Rediscovered sometime in the 2010s, Moma helpfully reproduced the album as Cardboard Landscapes: Photographs from 1971-1973, and I snagged a copy.

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David Alan Harvey – ‘Off for a Family Drive’

Off for a Family Drive is David Alan Harvey’s 2020 retrospective book. It arrived during the slow-motion crash of Harvey’s cachet and esteem in photo land, broadly considered, and I almost hesitate to talk about it now, in 2022, long after the Twittering went silent. Will this reopen barely-scabbed-over wounds? Will it stir the sleeping giants of PhotoTwitter land? Will this get me blacklisted too?

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Jona Frank – ‘Cherry Hill’

Jona Frank’s Cherry Hill is an interesting book. It’s mostly a memoir, and one Frank illustrates with staged photographs, employing actors to portray her younger self and family members. If Diana Markosian’s Santa Barbara was a book I wished I could make, Cherry Hill goes one step further…

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Diana Markosian – ‘Santa Barbara’

I’m not sure where or how Diana Markosian’s Santa Barbara came onto my radar, but it’s near enough to exactly the sort of book I’d like to make, more or less, and I’m a bit jealous (in a good way). The project came to fruition with the help of Lynda Miles, a former scriptwriter for the “Santa Barbara” television show. She and Markosian wrote a script, interviewed and hired actors, and sorta made a “Santa Barbara” episode version of her young life, first in Yeltsin-era Russia, then in 1990s Santa Barbara, CA. If you don’t have a copy, go buy one now, or, scratch that… scroll down and watch my unboxing first, then go buy a copy.

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Paul Graham – ‘A1’

I found a first edition copy of Paul Graham’s A1: The Great North Road in a used book store in Kansas City. At the time, I was well aware of Paul Graham thanks to The Whiteness of the Whale, but hadn’t head much about his early, self published work. But the price was right ($7.50) so I jumped on it.

Moments later, out in the car, I looked it up on bookfinder and guess what? Yep. I made a great investment for my future. To this day I wonder if I should’ve taken in back in, returned it, and told the owners to sell it online or something for an appropriate price. I take solace in the fact that, yes, this is Capitalism, and their loss is my gain, and, still, I feel a bit bad about it. But only a bit…

Fast forward to 2020, and Mack started reprinting Graham’s early work and despite already having a first edition, I picked up a copy.

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Dawoud Bey – ‘Portraits 1975-1995’

Dawoud Bey’s large format polaroid diptych and multi-panel portraits absolutely knock me out. I learned of these from his excellent Aperture Photography Workshop Series title on Photographing People and Communities, and went on a hunt for a book of this work. The only one I could find was Portraits 1975-1995, the catalog from an exhibition that travelled around the US, starting at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 1995, and ending at The Newark Museum in July 1997.

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Morning Light

A couple of years ago, I picked up my beloved Niko 50mm f/1.8 E and found the focus ring unusably stiff. Within seconds, I was on the ‘bay to acquire another, but found prices outrageous. For about $20 more than the average price of a good, tested, guaranteed E-Series, I scored a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 ai-s pancake, the all metal version of the E-Series that focuses closer and feels like a jewel. Score!

Sadly, the first few rolls left me flat: the Nikkor renders beautifully, and no question, but I want the sort of softness and color from the E-Series, and the Nikkor is simply a jewel. Some months ago, I shot a roll just to try to convince myself to be happy with the objectively better lens…

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