Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Mitch Epstein- State Of The Union

 Photo: Mitch Epstein

Mention the pioneers of color photography, and the usual suspects always come up: Eggleston, Shore, the two Joels, Graham, Parr, etc. Mitch Epstein is not usually muttered in the same breath, but here is a (master) photographer who understands and does color as well as any of them, and was also doing it at the same time. 

I was somewhat disappointed upon first opening State of The Union. The book leans toward the large size of the spectrum but opens with small and medium format photographs printed double truck slightly right or left of center. I would have been happy to turn a book of this size edgewise just so I could study each of these rather wondrous photographs at my leisure as a seamless, uninterrupted image. And they definitely do demand to be studied- despite a straight forward shooting style and subject matter firmly rooted in everyday reality, there's something profoundly surreal about many of these images. Some seem not so much captured, as much as... slowed down; others, eerily 3D. In the book's print of the image above, one feels as if you could almost place yourself amongst the soldiers as you weave about the moving mass. Like I said- the guy knows what he's doing.

But wait- there's more...

The reason for the book's particular size finally reveals itself when you reach the second half- large format images from the American Power essay. Again, they're printed double truck across both pages, only this time they are framed with small, evenly spaced white borders- and they look... Spectacular! Sharp, absolutely drop dead glorious reproductions that, were they seamless, you could dry mount, frame and hang proudly! I don't ever recall being quite so bowled over page after page, image after image by a book's print quality, presentation and, of course, it's knock you off your feet imagery...

Photo: Mitch Epstein

1 comment:

Binbaz said...

Always glad to see some love for Mitch. I can't believe I went through the entire semester without bringing him up to my photo 1 students.