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Stephen Shore: On the road

Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, Dennis Stock and many more. Through traversing the american roads, Stephen Shore joined quite a respectable company. Though he’s found his own way to explore the country, stretching all the way from the East to the West Coast, and food played a certain role in his journey.

Those similar to him are sometimes described as child prodigies. Stephen Shore (born in 1947) was six years old when he developed his first negative film, nine when he became an oner of a camera. He knew he wanted to become a photographer – and that’s how it remained. When presented with an opportunity to join the New York bohema, he did not hesitate for long. In 1965 he dropped out of school in order to document the everyday life and work of Andy Warhol and The Factory. These couple years of practice proved to be worth it. Coming into the third decade of his life, Shore was already a fully-shaped artist with a published book (Andy Warhol, 1968). To this day, he hasn’t lost his momentum: exhibitions of his works can be counted by the dozens, as well as his publications. Besides taking photos, the American is actively pursuing the theory of photography, curating and didactics. 

In the early 70’, Stephen Shore became interested in vernacular photography. He saw artistic photography, which used strictly black&white, as detached from reality, which was dominated by colour, that took over all the commercials, cinematography and television. ‘One thing I wanted to do is to take pictures that felt like they were not burdened with visual conventions. I wanted the pictures that felt like seeing’ he explains years later. In 1972 Stephen stocked on colour films, packed his candid camera and begun his journey across the USA: from New York to Amarillo. He was building a visual diary of a strictly documental nature along the way, photographing all the people he’s met, every city, hotel room and even restroom. He also documented each meal he’s had. American Surfaces became a unique record of the everyday journey experience and is now considered a classical example of ‘on the road photography’. 

In the following years, Stephen Shore would often go out to roam, taking with him his large-format camera (the one he created the amazing Uncommon Places series with), and later on his digital camera and his smartphone. He’d still, from time to time, photograph – and is still photographing – meals. ‘I’ve always been attracted to everyday subjects, rather than things that are dramatic’, he reveals in one of his interviews. ‘I think that is perhaps a more fertile field for communicating […] because the picture doesn’t become overwhelmed by the drama. It’s about looking… looking with self-awareness.

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