Research – Stephen Shore

An American, born in New York, Stephen Shore was a self-taught photographer who started photography from a young age. Stephen Shore’s photographs seem simple, plain, the collections of a traveller, banal images that are the opposite of the decisive moment. He appears to document landscapes without any social story implied. He took photographs of his travels including his hotel rooms and meals, more of a photographic diary which became his collection know as American Surfaces. They were diary style snap shots of his life. He later went on to create his collection Uncommon Places , very similar to his earlier work American Surfaces but using a large format camera. Shore was also one of the early pioneers of colour photography along with Eggleston. Shore was not always conventional in displaying his images, when he photographed Amarillo he had the images made into postcards to highlight the ordinariness of the town, some of these postcards he put into postcard racks of other places he visited. In his collection, American Surfaces, he displayed all the images as a large grid depicting his day-to-day life and travels. His images document the landscape of America, the developments of everyday life, A historical document of American architecture and life of that time. His approach is simple and has no social or political connotations, merely a witness to a place and a time. In an interview, January 2004 with Aaron Schuman, Shore indicates that he intentionally put a tag in for a general era such as including cars, it puts a time perspective on his images. His way of working and note taking was likened to Walker Evans in this interview. Shore had the privilege of working with Andy Warhol in his younger years and photographed Warhol’s factory, I am sure that Warhol would have been an artist role model for Shore and this early work of documenting Warhol may have influenced his later style. His photographs for American surfaces were snap shots however Shore later moved to large format as he wanted to capture more detail, his images create the feeling that you are standing there observing ‘seeing’ the scene in front of you, it feels real, the use of colour adds to this feeling. Shore can be seen as a street photographer / Topographical/ Diarist photographer, an early pioneer of colour.

Overall I find Shore’s approach interesting, the idea of a photographic diary however very few of his images hold my interest. My eyes scan all over the images, trying to see what Shore was seeing, perhaps this is the point and perhaps if viewed as a complete body of work my interest maybe more piqued.


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