Seminal: adjective (of a work, event, moment, or figure) strongly influencing later developments
I will be writing for a bit about seminal works of mine made over my career. Pivotal photographs that lit the way, that foretold of other works to come. Or work that I made that established a precedent or a foundation upon which I built a series or perhaps several. I suggest that you take a look through the links I provide, at the body of work itself, then perhaps if interested search the blog for one or more articles I've written about the particular photographs in question. As always feel free to write to me with questions or comments: here
Let's start with this one:
Nantucket 1980. (here)This was the one that started it all for me. The one where the lightbulb went off in my head that I could make pictures in sequence. This image started over 40 years of making photographs in narrative form. About as crucial a photograph as any I have ever made, not so much for being earth-shattering for what it depicts as what it stands for in my oeuvre.
Wheat 1996 (here) This one from the first year I made a trip to photograph in the Palouse in eastern Washington. I was still making my own analog prints in a darkroom in those days.
This one is 20 x 24 inches and a print of it is in the permanent collection at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA.
I was very excited to be photographing in such a minimal and pure environment. I'd never photographed in a landscape anything like the Palouse. Since then I have photographed in the Palouse 24 times over 26 years.
The work from that trip, all in black and white, formed a foundation of photographing in the wheat fields. The Wheat Field pictures are my longest-running series and constitute a huge body of work, in analog black and white, in analog color, in digital black and white and color as well as frequent work made aerially.
Cabela's 2008 (here) The Cabela's work shows some real changes taking place in my thoughts about my work. Not without packing some punch, the pictures are a little lighter and satirical than other works done until then. They are also my first digital series and looking back, the series would have been far more difficult to pull off with film. The pictures took about 2 years to complete and involved trips to Nebraska, Illinois, South Dakota, Idaho, Pennsylvania, and Indiana, as well as Hartford and locations closer by. In all, I photographed in 17 Cabela's stores, all with permission of the company.
A few years earlier I'd been promoted to full professor where I taught at Northeastern University. This was freeing in that there was no longer anyone looking at my work critically at the University.
South Shore 1977 (here) The first real focused work I made after grad school and made over a couple of winters after I moved to Cambridge and my marriage ended. A lonely time, (you can see that in the pictures) but also positively dripping in silver with multiple toners and shot with a three-stop red filer to drive the sky darker.
Museum of Medicine and Health 2014 (here) These aren't the first of my obsession with medical specimens but they serve as a good example of this particular subset of my work. Others are the Mutter Museum and Reggio Emilia, Italy. My work made several turns in the first decade of the 2000s and this was one of them.
We will stop here with the first installment of the "Seminal Work". You might find it fruitful to think back through your work. What pictures rocked your world and changed your sense of your place in it, creatively? Next up, we will continue to look at work that formed a precedent, was a new way of seeing, or that predicted changes for me.