A Bit About Bill

Feature, News, Pictures, Spotlight, Text
"Untitled, 1973" by William Eggleston

I feel as if many photographers working today owe a lot to Bill Eggleston. Or perhaps not. Either way, his influence among the art world has been sort of delayed about 40 years. Like many art students, I learned about him in an introductory photography course during my freshmen year in college. I was ignorant to any photographer shooting seriously in this “snapshot aesthetic” — the only photographers I knew about were Man Ray and Ansel Adams. And I no idea one could make art about one’s home — his hometown in Memphis, Tennessee. The South. Ah, I thought, something I identify with readily that many of my classmates didn’t. I understood it. His pictures felt like home, my home. I ended up going home over Thanksgiving break and making pictures around the countryside with which I was duly familiar. The landscape I spent most of my grade school years attempting to escape. Now, here I was, stopping my car on the side of the road with my camera out, taking in appraising stares from strangers bypassing in their cars. I’ve done this every time I’ve gone home.

I owe a bit to ol’ Bill Eggleston. What he did for art and color photography and more importantly, what he made me realize about southern imagery. Even though he claims his pictures aren’t necessarily southern (and I don’t think they are either), but that art could be made about whatever is around you.

Naturally, I wasn’t at all surprised that the above image is expected to gross a quarter of a million dollars at Christie’s this March. But I am a little surprised it took this long. (And, by the way, doesn’t it look a bit like the St. Andrew’s Cross?)

It’s over now and I’m a little tired

Feature, Petty Thieves, Spotlight

For those that may be new to Empty Stretch, we just wanted to let you know about our Flickr group – Petty Thieves. It’s really our first curating attempt and a lot of the work that gets submitted to us blows us away. I think the best part about it though is the narratives that a person can form from the wide range of photos we’ve collected. I picked just five for today, but we hope to make these little sequences a more common occurrence on our blog. I call this one, It’s over now and I’m a little tired.

David Ciarli Wilson
Iago Barreiro
Alison Scarpulla
Helen Korpak
Lisa Smit

You can see more of these photographer’s work by following the links below:
David Ciarli Wilson
Iago Barreiro
Alison Scarpulla
Helen Korpak
Lisa Smit

We’d love to have you take part in the fun as well. Feel free to join the group, and send us some of your best pictures. We’re really not looking for a certain style or anything, just whatever you think is your best and we’ll most likely agree. Also, besides getting in a possible feature like this one, we use this group for the curating of our book series, Petty Thieves (an awesome book that will be coming to you once we get TWENTY/12 printed!).

A Thorny Thorny Hill

Feature, Pictures, Spotlight

Isabelle Evertse is an interesting photographer whose work touches a lot of notes. At one moment you feel a nostalgic longing for something that never was and the next wanting to dive head first into an African village that may or may not exist. These constructive narratives are something that l found interesting with her work and something I stride to be a quality of my own.

fts Thorny Hill

Evertse’s series, Thorny Hill, takes the initiative of informing the viewer that what they are seeing may or may not be real. This knowledge conflicts with what we are seeing though, a series of aesthetically traditional documentary imagery, and starts prompting the notion of what is real and what is not. But even this is a bit absurd; these images are real in the sense that these events happened, these people exist and while they may not all dwell within this created atmosphere, that atmosphere does in fact exist. So what may not be real about these images?

fts Thorny Hill

The validity of the narrative, the story of what we the viewer create through viewing the images verse what the photographer intended. While this may seem like a moot point of interest, I find this really interesting because our perception of images and how we read images is constantly changing. This change is in part because of the general distrust of what we find within our digital culture. When photo manipulation becomes so easy to do, this aesthetic type of imagery begins to hold a certain sense of validity and certainty to it. In blunt terms, this photo looks real so it must be. But why do we feel that way and what can photographers do with this?

fts Thorny Hill
fts Thorny Hill

I feel the product of all of this is the constructive narrative. While people like John Gossage set the foundation for the contemporary understanding of the constructive narrative back in 1985 with the publishing of, The Pound, the application to a documentary aesthetic is fairly new. Evertise’s work is an interesting blend between the old and the new understanding or application of this idea. While Evertise continues the path of a visual narrative, it alternatively becomes a personal reflection of a former life. The distance within the images from the subject matter help to keep the narrative loose and unbinding to a predestined path while the aesthetic helps to retain the series within the validity of ‘truth.’

fts Thorny Hill

The product is a constructed narrative that follows the line of a loose narrative that harps on a sense of remembrance and forgetting. An openness to interpretation though allows for the viewer to convey their own intentions and interpretation upon the work, truly forming a completed structure. The lasting effect is a series that can be revisited upon multiple times and a different story gained through each viewing. This to me is an essential element within storytelling and what really makes this series work, an application of function to aesthetically pleasing and interesting images.

fts Thorny Hill

You can see more of Isabelle Evertse’s work here. (The series, Burnish, and Come Night, are definitely worth your time)

The Quiet Eye of Palmer Davis

Feature, Pictures, Spotlight

Unless you will is an online monthly publication of photography curated by Heidi Romano. I have yet to see an issue that doesn’t captivate me in some way. Each issue is focused on contemporary photography from around world but all with a certain mood that keeps me coming back. I can describe almost every photographer I encounter as maintaining a certain quiet brillance. Each issue reads as a sublime encounter with documentation and experimentation.

Previously unknown to me until Issue 18 of Unless you will was Palmer Davis. I felt it very important to share Davis’ work because he has, not only informed my own photography, but also achieved a method of storytelling that relies heavily on mythical and heartfelt elements. I like it.

Images from Davis’ American Stories series:

"Gilded Age"
"American Gothic"

Domestic Creature, an “essay on childhood” about the photographer’s son Noah:

"Candy Land"
"Milk and Crackers"

In the Mystical Realm of Color — Davis explores the people and color scheme of India.

"Red Sari"
"Men with Blue Wall"
"Secret Garden"

Explore more of Palmer Davis.