Create: Sonder

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Damn Jeff, you did good. As many of you know, I’m not really a street photography person. I don’t seek out this kind of work, and most of what I see coming from this genre just simply isn’t that good. Especially the work getting the most amount of hype. However, this is a good book. Well thought out, well-edited and Mr. Larason knows how to make pictures on the street.

He sees light well. Yes, there are what I would call “expected” images in here but there is also a lot more. This book is the end result of thirty-five years of pounding the pavement. This was not a rush job looking for a few likes.

The images cover a range of humanity. Up very close to middle distance. Quick moving events and others that depict a sit and wait mentality. There is an additional message in the title and thought put into the meaning of what he is trying to convey. Jeff knows the context of where his work fits in. (I wish more photogs understood this.)

Jeff Larason can speak and write about his work as well. Another refreshing aspect. The letter that came with the book touched the bases of what I was hoping to learn. And finally, a list of credits at the back. Jeff did his homework. Some names I know and respect. If you are a collector of all things street you should have a look.

Comments 9

  1. This looks nicely done. I too have a conflicted view of what passes for street photography. First, there is way too much of it, especially on social media platforms, and especially by younger film for films sake shooters. Second, most of it isn’t interesting to me in a slice of life way. I am a wander around kind of photographer, but my photos rarely if ever have people in them, especially lately. Anyway, my two cents.

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      Adding people increases the difficulty. Especially when the people know you are making pictures.

  2. Just looked up “sonder”. I think about that concept a lot, happy to have a word to go along with it, assuming the definition I found is accurate. It’s the internet, has to be true!

    I love street photography. Maier, Bresson. Sure, call me a cliché, but I love that stuff. I’ve never been able to do it, it feels too invasive. But I see their work and it never strikes me as invasive or creepy. Your post and Chuck’s reply got me thinking more about why today’s street photography doesn’t resonate with me. I think partially because when I was getting back into photography, there was a constant stream of “top 10 ways to shoot better street photography” lists everywhere. Everyone wanted to shoot and post (not judging, I’ve done it).

    Your post mentions 35 years of pounding the streets. I think that’s the difference for me. Street photography for me becomes more powerful when it is a series or collection (even a very small one) built over time.

    *35 years. Wow. I’m trying a much more modest project. 4 years of live music. Going through the catalog is a real challenge. I’d be interested in hearing from others in the Shifter Community do it. I can’t rely on keywords alone because I know I wasn’t perfectly consistent with them.

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      Street has become a way to build following. And a way to shoot without interacting with anyone. What Sonder represents is a long-term effort with meaning. He is very much involved with the people he is working with even though he is on the street.

  3. Having looked at a lot of street stuff in recent months, my takeaway is shadows and light or quirky juxtaposition. Agreed, there is an over saturation of imagery from this genre and my thought is how to the photographers progress. More shadows and light? Better arrangements? Of course there are great contemporary photographers trail blazing this approach but personally I’m not keen on imitating them.

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      It’s a genre that fits modern photography culture. Quick, fast, promote. No engagement. But, then you have a smaller group who is street shooting but very much involved in the scenes. That is where things get interesting. The others are fine for YouTube but the work lacks originality and power.

  4. I agree with Chuck. Street photography is accessible to everyone and accessibility is a huge part of photography. Therefore, there is a massive amount of it around, 99% of it is forgettable. It’s the one per cent that is the important stuff, more so as an historical document. Unfortunately, in these recent years, it’s been very difficult to shoot people in the street, children in particular. Bresson’s picture of the young boy running with wine in Paris, Klein’s pictures of the kids with toy guns and dancing for him, you just cannot shoot that stuff now, not that kids play outside anymore. Larason’s work is surely in that one per cent, not just the skill of his craft but the period of time he covers.

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      It will get worse. There are multiple countries contemplating banning photography in public. And any recognizable brand could be considered infringement. Not to mention people are trying to copyright themselves to any image would be an infringement as well.

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