Sometime in the early 1980’s, after shooting classic-style street photography (b&w, focused on people) for 15 years, I started photographing scenes that had interesting lines, shapes and shadows. At first, people were a part of these pictures. Eventually, it didn’t matter if people were in the frame at all and I spent most of the 1980’s shooting what I called, “Found Graphics”. There were two pivotal photographs that pointed me in this new direction: “Caneman” (above) and “Waiting for a Bus”. I wish I could say that I planned these images, but I didn’t, they just happened. I suppose it is exactly that kind of serendipity that fuels the creative process and opens new areas of exploration for us. Something catches our eye, an incident opens a new understanding of a part of our world or sometimes it is nothing more than a happy accident. Seizing and applying the inspiration is what’s important.
I really enjoyed shooting photos on the street and in many cases OF the street…and sidewalks…and railings and stairways, although today I am not sure how those images fit into my body of work. I remember my painter friend Thorvald Sanchez commenting on an image of a palm tree shadow, “I have never seen a shadow walk down the stairs like that!” Whereas street photography involving people as the main subject can be intense and exhilarating, found graphics are contemplative and peaceful. Rather than chasing the ultimate moment of human behavior I began looking for bold lines and shapes. One thing that I never did was refer to those photographs as “street photography” and that ties in to an earlier post, “Please Don’t Hijack the Genre”
ABOVE: Yucatan Stairs, Merida, Mexico 1983