Tuesday, September 25, 2007

More Stephen Shore (+ Bonus...)

Jörg has a good interview up with Stephen Shore over on Conscientious - and at the end a nice bonus - you can download one of the little print on demand books Shore has been making here's an extract:

JC: After the 1970's colour "revolution" in the fine-arts community - if we want to call it that - the introduction and spread of digital photography appears to be at least equally important. I'd be curious to learn how you view the impact of digital photography.

SS: I'm going to give you a long-winded answer. I guess I see how photographers work as influenced by, among other factors, the cost of their processes. In the 1970s, when I started using 8x10 color, it cost me more than $15 every time I took a picture (film, processing, and a contact print). Simple economy lead me to only take one exposure of a subject. I knew I couldn't economize by only taking pictures that I knew would be good – that would simply lead to boring, safe images. But, I could decide what I really wanted to photograph and how I wanted to structure the picture. This was a powerful learning experience. I began to learn what I really wanted. Digital is the opposite of 8x10. I see digital as a two-sided phenomenon. The fact that pictures are free can lead to greater spontaneity. As I watch people photograph (with film), I often see a hesitation, an inhibition, in their process. I don't see this as much with digital. There seems to be a greater freedom and lack of restraint. This is analogous to how word processing affects writing: one can put thoughts down in writing, even tangential thoughts, with a minimum of inner censorship, knowing that the piece can be edited later. The other side of this lack of restraint is greater indiscriminancy. Here's a tautology: as one considers one's pictures less, one produces fewer truly considered pictures...

...JC: I was intrigued to learn that you have been producing small editions of self-published books. What is the impetus behind this?

SS: Ever since I first saw Ed Ruscha's small books in the late 1960s, I've loved artists' books. Print-on-demand technology allows me to produce books with ease. I like the basic structure of these small books: the individual images are not intended to stand alone, but are seen as a part of a complex whole. I enjoy availing myself of commonly available technology. Finally, my book project allows me to explore many different visual ideas and explore a variety of directions...

Stephen Shore very graciously agreed to share one of his iBooks, which can be downloaded here (file size: about

And just a reminder - you can link to a short movie of Stephen Shore wandering around with his 8x10 here

1 comment:

Allen George said...

As someone who is in the very early stages of photographing, I don't quite know what to make of Stephen Shore's comment.

I understand his point - if there's little impediment to taking as many photos as you want, there's a risk that you'll never ask yourself "Why am I interested in ____?"; consequently, we may never give voice to the themes that drive us. That said, the freedom to make mistakes is invaluable as well. There's less temptation to take - and stick to - the safe shot. For me, taking a picture gives me a different sense of the world - one that's very hard to imagine in advance.

It's certainly given me something to think about.