Tuesday, May 19, 2009

A Few Questions for Stephen Shore

I had a recent short chat with Stephen Shore. Like his photographs, his responses to my questions were sharp, direct and concise.
It's become the stuff of photography world legend that, at the age of 14, Shore presented and sold 3 of his photographs to Edward Steichen, then curator of the Department of Photography, at the Museum of Modern Art. At 17 Shore worked his way into Andy Warhols "Factory" and documented the people and goings on there. In 1971, at 24, Shore was the second living photographer to have a one person exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
He is widely regarded as one of the first photographers, along with William Eggleston and Joel Meyerowitz, to produce photographs in color that were highly regarded and exhibited by the art world establishment. His 1982 book, 'Uncommon Places', is considered a seminal work that built upon the foundation and focus of previous photographers, like Walker Evans and Minor White, while also exploring avenues of technique and subject matter that pointed towards a new direction forward.
Since 1982 Stephen has been the director of the photography department at Bard College. In addition to the work he is best known for he has, lately, spent considerable time and energy working in the commercial and editorial arena. You can see more of Stephen Shore's work at 303 Gallery and much of his "commercial" work at Bill Charles.

Stephen Shore, Self Portrait, New York, NY, 1976

ME: Was there one photograph or photographer who was instrumental in exciting/inciting you to start to make pictures?

Stephen Shore: "No. My interest began when I was six through doing darkroom work. Then I began taking pictures, but hadn't really looked at anyone's work. When I was 10, I received a copy of Evans' "American Photographs".

Walker Evans, Storefront, Greensboro, Alabama, 1936

Stephen Shore, U.S. Route 10, Post Falls, Idaho, 1974

Walker Evans, Cherokee Parts Store, Atlanta, Georgia, 1936

Stephen Shore, Church and 2nd Streets, Easton, Pennsylvania, 1974

ME: What contemporary photographers are you most interested in these days?

Stephen Shore: "Walid Raad"

Walid Raad, From the series We decided to let them say, "we are convinced," twice, 2002

Walid Raad, From the series We decided to let them say, "we are convinced," twice, 2002

ME: Who do you think is one of the most under examined or underrated photographers? Someone whose work should be seen more often and in more places?

Stephen Shore: "Michael Schmidt"

Michael Schmidt, Irgendwo, 2001-2004

ME: If photography ceased to exist and you had to choose a medium in which to express your self which medium would you choose?

Stephen Shore: "Garden design"

Stephen Shore, International Motel, Sacramento, Ca., 1973

Stephen Shore, Monet's Garden at Giverny, 1977

ME: Photography, in all it's genres, is more popular than ever. For decades it fought to be valued as highly as all the other creative mediums. More schools are offering it as a subject of study. More galleries and museums are exhibiting photographs and more individuals are pursuing photography as a vocation. Do you have any concern that photography is perhaps becoming a victim of its own success? That the stunning volume of pictures being produced and consumed in all contexts has somehow demeaned the value of the medium and individual images?

Stephen Shore: "No"

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