Last week, Mercedes, colleague, friend and studio assistant from Penland, came up for a visit and we spent an afternoon and the next morning looking at work, lots of work. At the end we were both exhausted. You wouldn't think this would be a grueling experience, looking at sets of prints sitting in portfolios, but it is. I admit, my work is intense. For the most part these are not just pretty pictures, but series where pictures are arranged as a narrative, making connections from picture to picture, alluding to something that has come earlier or is about to come up ahead. Think poems or chamber pieces or short stories. I too get fatigued looking at my own work in effect over the shoulder of someone else, looking to see the work through their eyes, to read their reactions, to sense their involvement or lack of, their getting it or not, what their body language indicates. (In looking over what I just wrote I realize you could take a very different stance about looking at all that work: the photographs of Neal Rantoul could be seen as relentlessly boring, overwrought, narrow-minded, humorless, repetitive and lacking in innovation. I hope Mercedes didn't feel that way!)
Hershey is on the site: here.
One of my favorite things to do with someone who visits the studio is a kind of game. Years ago Phillip Prodger did this. He was the curator of photography at the Peabody Essex Museum at the time. The idea is to have the visitor randomly pick something to look at from the flat files and shelves of portfolios. Mercedes chose Hershey, PA so I hauled the box of analog prints out and we took a look.
Hershey has been around. The work is represented in the black and white monograph "American Series", it gets its own small book called Hershey and it has been shown numerous times since I first made the prints in 1997. It also lives in several print versions, including a poster (as just one image from the series, the one shown above), and another as 18-inch square inkjet prints on watercolor paper and just this week after Mercedes left, as new 13-inch square prints. Why did I print the full set yet again? Because some of the original darkroom prints are missing. This isn't as tragic as you might think as in earlier days I might have sold a single print out of a series. I no longer do this of original work but will freely sell a digital version. So the new full set is from scanned film and made as inkjet prints. Easy. And before you tell me you prefer the older vintage darkroom made prints come take a look at the inkjet ones as they are very beautiful. Why? Because the quality of the scans is first rate. Quality in, quality out.
All this by way of suggesting, if you haven't been there yet, that you might like to read about the Hershey pictures. If you I do I can link you to the introductory post, that then links you to the three posts I wrote that take a closer look at a body of work of mine that I regard as being seminal.
I hope you enjoy looking at the Hershey series: HERE