World renowned photographer Stephen Shore has been named as the 2019 Master of Photography by Photo London, credited for sparking a ‘new interest in colour photography and in the use of the view camera for documentary work.’ One of his most distinctive projects was his 1969 collection Los Angeles, where he roamed the streets of LA, and shot the whole project in a day.
There’s something about the eery darkness that Shore has created that paints LA in a very different way indeed, in comparison to the sunshine paradise that we’re used to.
The beach dwellers have been replaced with suited, cold expressions, and the long boulevards have been narrowed, from shots inside cars and glancing photos from below up to the sky.
He’s created what appears like a dystopian Los Angeles, after the sunshine, glitz and the glamour.
However, the essence of the surroundings remains unmistakedly American, with Standard brandished across every gas station, and the Palladium sitting humbly in the picture above.
But there feels like Shore was trying to subtract something from what he saw with his eyes and give it a new feel.
You could say it is America without the bright lights and billboards associated with capitalism’s heartland. He’s dulled the place down, giving the place a new subtlety and a quietness that may be seen very differently through the human eye.
“his work exemplified the fact that the medium could be considered art.”
Shooting all the pictures on the 4th February 1969, America was in the middle of the Vietnam War and Nixon was the man in the White House, so the style of pictures certainly reflects the feeling of the country at the time. A loss of hope as America’s thriving 60s gave way to a period of darkness.
“through color and composition, Shore transforms the mundane into subjects of thoughtful meditation.”
Shore’s works have been celebrated all over the globe for year, and his recent award by Photo London is truly impressive and highlights the longevity of such a glistening career. At just 23 years old, in 1971 he became the first living photographer to have a one-person show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.
His 1982 book, Uncommon Places became a bible for young photographers seeking to work in color, and his works have been exhibited and collected at some of the most prestigious venues for photography including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art, and the Library of Congress in Washington DC.