I just put up a new show over at Square America called Moving Pictures: Brief Lives and Living Portraits. It's a series of animated gifs (I know, I know, very 2005) of photobooth strips and/or multiple photobooth images of the same person. A couple of the series are really long and they take awhile to load but I think they're worth the wait. On a side note, our book has officially arrived and it looks great!! If you've already ordered it I think we got most of them in the mail already- if not it'll go out tomorrow. If you haven't ordered it yet what are you waiting for??
Here are a couple more clips from the 60 minute DVD-R that I've put together as a limited time promotion for my new book Who We Were: A Snapshot History of America. Remember, you have to order before August 26th to get the video! You can see more clips and find out the full line-up and see more clips here
Here's a short excerpt from a reel filmed by a very creative family.
And just in time for the Olympics, here's another short excerpt- this one's of some very beautiful synchronized swimming.
I've extended the deadline to get the free DVD through
Friday August 15th so you stragglers get busy and order my book! Also I just added a pretty great (if I do say so myself) new show over at Square America called The Eternal Sunshine of Fred & Anne, excerpts from a series of albums of an Iowa couple where any evidence of former loves has been conspicuously and imperfectly erased.
If you saw my last post then you know the book I've been working on is finally available for pre-order. It's being printed this week and we'll start shipping them out on August 16th. As a special incentive to get your order in early I'm putting together a DVD of some of my favorite home movie clips from my collection and I'll be giving them away to anyone who places their order in the next two days (that means any orders placed before 12:01am Saturday August 9th). After that we'll be raffling one of for every 100 books sold. You can order the book here. I have no plans to sell the DVD on it's own- it's just something I'm throwing together in IMovie and will basically be a no-frills DVD-R (all silent films, probably about 30-45 minutes total). That said there'll be some great footage
Here's some footage of a Cowboy vs. Indian Tug-of-War (the Indians are Arapahoe) from a rodeo in Dubois, Wyoming in 1927. If only this was how the west was really won.
Here's some footage from a blindfolded boxing match that took place on a trans-Atlantic cruise in 1926. I should note that the DVD will feature more footage of both the cruise and the rodeo- these clips are just to whet your appetite.
Finally, here's a late 50s/early 60s home movie of a solar eclipse. Shot in time lapse and through through some kind of filter it turns the eclipse into a psychedelic pink apocalypse. His Majesty The Sun Indeed!!
These are just a few of the wonders that await if you order now!!
It's been more than two years since Mike Williams and Rich Cahan of City Files Press initially approached me with the idea of doing a snapshot book so I'm very pleased to announce that the book is finally done and available for pre-order now (click here for a preview and ordering details). It goes to press early next week and barring any unforeseen problems we should have them in hand on August 15th and we'll begin shipping the next day.
The book truly was a collaborative effort with Mike and Rich contributing every bit as much (and probably more) to the final product as me. Only about half the photos come from my collection and of those many haven't been posted to Square America so most of the book will be new to everyone. What really separates this book from Square America (and just about every snapshot book that's been done) is the amount of effort we put in to research every photo in order to place it in it's proper historical context.
When the book opens in 1888, the population of the United States was approximately 62 million people spread out across 39 states and 7 territories. Just 28 cities have a population of greater than 100,000 and 2/3s of the population live in rural areas. The Indian wars largely over, the U.S. is well on its way towards claiming the last of the Native American’s land and fixing the boundaries of the 48 states as we now know them. While the U.S. economy is the most productive in the world, we’re also less than 20 years removed from the completion of the transcontinental railway and the gas-powered automobile has yet to introduced.
By the close of the book in April of 1972 the population has more than tripled to approximately 210 million, nearly 75% living in urban areas. The U.S. leads the world economically, diplomatically, and militarily but we’re still embroiled in Vietnam and the Watergate break-in is less than two months away.
In the intervening years every story we’ve told ourselves about America, the cradle of Democracy, the land of freedom and opportunity, has been proven both true and false. In this book we’ve tried to chart some of that trajectory--thematically as much as chronologically-- as it has played out in the lives of ordinary people. In snapshots we see history as it was experienced at ground level. During WWII, for instance, just over 10% of the population served in the military, for the other 90% the ordinary life of work and family continued on. The grand events that fill history books usually appear in snapshots obliquely, or often not at all. What we do see is how those events and the relentless forward momentum of technological change and even fashion gradually change those most ordinary aspects of life-- work, family, relationships-- that seem most permanent.
Of course the book does cover the big historical events but hopefully in a unique way. This is one of the many photos in the WWII chapter:
With pilots in short supply during the war the "Women Flyers of America" ferried planes from the assembly lines to Air Force bases both in the U.S. and overseas.
Here's a photo taken by a soldier in Korea:
The back reads "This is one of the mosquitos here. That is my hand. You can see how big they are."
Here's what the very fine writer Luc Sante said about the book:
Who We Were is the most intimate kind of history--the past with all
the laughs and chills and hesitations left in, and all the unresolved
contradictions as well. It's a lovely collection of amateur
photographs, some of them truly inadvertent in their glory, some
potential candidates for high-art stature if they were matted and
framed. Overall it's as close to a true self-portrait of the American
people as you're likely to find between covers.
The fantastic photographer Alec Soth had this to say:
With the medium of photography, anyone can make a masterpiece.
The cell-phone snapshooter is just as likely of capturing the next iconic i
mage as the celebrated photojournalist. The higher challenge, the art – if
you will, is assembling a collection of great images. With Who We Were:
A Snapshot History of America, Richard Cahan, Michael Williams, and
Nicholas Osborn have done just that. From hundred of brilliant fragments,
they’ve pieced together a breathtaking view of the puzzle of America.
(By the way Sante's translation of Felix Feneon's Novels in Three Lines is one the best and strangest books I've come across in years. And Soth's Sleeping By The Mississippi, one of the finest photo books of the last 50 years, has just been reprinted and if you don't already have it you better grab yourself a copy. A big thank you to both of them for taking the time to look at the book and saying such nice things!)
In 1937 Walker Evans wrote, “And then one thinks of the run of the social mill: these anonymous people who come and go in the cities and on the land. It is on what they look like now, what is in their faces and in the windows and the streets beside and around them, what they are wearing and what they are riding in and how they are gesturing, that we need to concentrate, consciously, with the camera.” Of course, many of those anonymous people had cameras of their own and used them to take photos of themselves and of each other, of the places they lived and worked and visited. And this, I think, is the great legacy of the snapshot and what I hope the book captures; this visual diary in photographs both mundane and extraordinary, the annals of everyday life.
(thanks to Reservatory for reminding me of the Walker Evans quote.)
The second part of my 3rd Anniversary special is up- it's called At Sea. It's 35 slides taken by a sailor on board a destroyer (I think- please correct me if I'm wrong) from '66 to '68. The photos are mostly of his shipmates or simply shots of the open ocean but I think it captures the odd languor I associate with being at sea (though I have to admit any associations I have come only from reading Conrad). One interesting note: the swift boat in photo third from the the bottom here is one of the boats that would later take part in the John Kerry swift boat incident- not the boat he was actually on but one of the escorts.
I'm busy working on the 3rd Anniversary Show over at Square America. It looks like it'll be 3 or four small-ish shows the first of which is What Was On (June 1968)- the fourth in my series of photos taken off TV. This one is small- just 17 photos of Robert F Kennedy's funeral taken by Martin Johnson (who also took the photos of JFK's funeral that I posted previously. I meant to post these last month for the 40th anniversary but didn't get around to it.
If you like these make sure to take a look at These amazing photos taken by Paul Fusco from RFK's funeral train (NYT Times piece here) as it made it's way from NY to Washington D.C. They're truly extraordinary- if you're in NYC check out the show at Danziger Projects though you'll have to hurry as it closes at the end of the month. If you can't make it to the show, the book is being re-issued next month with a bunch of new photos and will certainly be worth picking up.
I just put up a new show over at Square America- it's called It's 1975 And This Man Is About To Show You The Future. It's 56 images from a pre-Powerpoint IBM slide presentation with one foot in the future and the other planted firmly in the 70s. Here's a peek.
I just dumped about 30 new slides into the Archives. I'm going to have to play around with the design a little bit but the ability to tag and create a tag cloud is essential and the ability to make the scans a bit bigger helps too so that's where all new stuff is going to be going eventually.
First, let me apologize for the lack of posts lately- I've a few health issues that will hopefully be behind me soon. I should have a great new show up over at Square America next week. More importantly, I should have a major book-related announcement next week as well. Finally, I think the next few weeks will mark the final ones here at The Boat Lullabies- all of my new posting will done over in the archives which I hope to start dumping more photos into shortly. I just don't have the energy to do the big re-design like I had planned so I'm just going to use wordpress to create a tagged, searchable, archive that I'll try to add photos to regularly and keep Square America pretty much as it is now. More on that later, but for now some summer photos for you (sorry if I posted one or two of these before- I can't remember if I have or haven't).
Yesterday I picked up this photo at the market.
I like the image- A flapper leaning in the door of a milk truck while chugging a bottle of milk- but what really cinched it for me was what was written on the back.
The idea of a beautiful flapper from Alabama named Lady Earl pulling into a dairy (named Hicks no less!) in rural Kansas in 1927 (the rest of the photos in the lot had developer's stamps from Dodge City and Elkhart, Kansas) for a bottle of milk after driving for 4 straight days without stopping- what could be better? It's right out of F. Scott Fitzgerald.
Now I'm sure she didn't actually drive 100 hours without stopping- a google search on Lady Earl turned up nothing. It's more likely that she drove 100 miles without stopping- probably no small feat on dirt roads with poor suspension- and whoever wrote the caption just made a mistake.
Still whether she drove for 100 hours or 100 miles, today I know something that yesterday I did not: In 1927 Lady Earl from Alabama leaned in the door of a milk truck at Hicks Dairy (with the too small C and upside down S on the sign) while drinking a bottle of milk. I guess that's why I do what I do.