A ‘Report From the Field’ in Aperture’s PBR 007

I was asked recently to provide a report from the field for the Fall issue of Aperture’s ‘Photobook Review’. The report sits alongside the likes of Larissa Leclair, Markus Schaden and Rebecca Senf and talks mostly about the need to expand our community to greater benefit a wider audience.


The newspaper is available with a subscription to Aperture magazine but can also be found at a good number of bookshops and galleries and likely if you went to Paris – you already ave a copy. If you can’t get hold of a copy and would like to read the report, just drop me a mail. 

– Matt

Stephen Shore’s ‘Uncommon Places’ and Geography

Perhaps this is a little geeky, but I hear that geek is the new black so I shall proceed…
I was keen to look at the locations of the original images in the 1982 publication as I had been noticing so many Texas, Florida and California locations that I wondered how the spread of images fell across a map. I plotted all locations from the original map into a google map which is placed below.

View Stephen Shore’s ‘Uncommon Places’ in a larger map

You can see from the spread just how many States are left unrepresented by Shore’s democratic camera. And while I am not suggesting each State and town should be represented equally, I find it interesting that so much of middle America was ignored in the original.

The Bay Theater

For those counting, the States with the most images are:

– Matt

Synopsis: Stephen Shore’s ‘Uncommon Places’

Before writing this synopsis and heading into the month long look at Shore’s book, I should point out that there are two books called ‘Uncommon Places’ by Shore, although to give the second it’s full title ‘Uncommon Places, The Complete Works’.
The original 1982 publication would set you back between £6-900 for a book in good nick and so there will be no book-bias here. Whichever copy you have, we would love to hear your thoughts.
– Myself, I will be looking at a copy of ‘Uncommon Places, The Complete Works’ and occasionally the original from my local library

Uncommon Places/Uncommon Places, The Complete Works

Stephen Shore

Aperture 1982/Aperture 2004

From the publisher:

Published by Aperture in 1982 and long unavailable, Stephen Shore’s legendary Uncommon Places has influenced a generation of photographers. Among the first artists to take color beyond advertising and fashion photography, Shore’s large-format color work on the American vernacular landscape stands at the root of what has become a vital photographic tradition. Uncommon Places: The Complete Works presents a definitive collection of the original series, much of it never before published or exhibited.

Like Robert Frank and Walker Evans before him, Shore discovered a hitherto unarticulated version of America via highway and camera. Approaching his subjects with cool objectivity, Shore’s images retain precise internal systems of gestures in composition and light through which the objects before his lens assume both an archetypal aura and an ambiguously personal importance. In contrast to Shore’s signature landscapes with which “Uncommon Places” is often associated, this expanded survey reveals equally remarkable collections of interiors and portraits.

As a new generation of artists expands on the projects of the New Topographic and New Color photographers of the seventies—Thomas Struth (whose first book was titled Unconscious Places), Andreas Gursky, and Catherine Opie among them—Uncommon Places: The Complete Works provides a timely opportunity to reexamine the diverse implications of Shore’s project and offers a fundamental primer for the last thirty years of large-format color photography.

At age twelve, Stephen Shore’s work was purchased by Edward Steichen for the Museum of Modern Art. At twenty-four, he became the first living photographer to have a one-man show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Other one-man show venues include the Museum of Modern Art, New York, the Art Institute of Chicago, and the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts Grants and a Guggenheim Foundation Grant, and has been the Chair of Bard College’s photography department in upstate N.Y. since 1982.


Share your thoughts on Nan Goldin’s ‘Ballad of Sexual Dependecy’

Goldin’s ‘The Ballad of Sexual Dependency‘ is by no means an undiscovered work, and as we will highlight, has been discussed and talked about many times, in many formats before. But this book never fails to invoke response from those who have either seen it 100 times, or those who are viewing it for the first time.

And we would really love to here from as many members of the Photo Book Club community as possible, so feel free to share your views in Twitter, Facebook, or in the comments section below. We are also happy to post any personal reflections on this blog (these do not have to be in praise of the book!) just leave your reflection in the comments or in email to matt@photobookclub.org.

– Matt Johnston




Synopsis: Nan Goldin – ‘The Ballad Of Sexual Dependency’

The Ballad Of Sexual Dependency

Nan Goldin

Aperture, 1986

Nan Goldin - The Ballad Of Sexual Dependency 1986

From the publisher:

The Ballad of Sexual Dependency is a visual diary chronicling the struggle for intimacy and understanding between friends and lovers collectively described by Nan Goldin as her “tribe.” Her work describes a world that is visceral and seething with life. As Goldin writes: “Real memory, which these pictures trigger, is an invocation of the color, smell, sound, and physical presence, the density and flavor of life.”

“Goldin, at the age of 33, has created an artistic masterwork that tells us not only about the attitudes of her generation, but also about the times in which we live.”—Andy Grundberg, The New York Times

“Goldin’s prescient philosophy has, if anything been solidified by the intervening decade, and her Ballad resounds more poignantly than ever in its tenth-anniversary republication.”—Lawrence Schubert, Detour magazine

If you would like to receive 10% off this title, see here for a deal with the kind folks at Aperture

10% Off select Aperture titles for Meet-up Members

A huge thanks to the folks at Aperture publishing who have kindly offered the Photo Book Club community 10% off select titles, including Nan Goldin’s ‘Ballad of Sexual Dependency’ which we are looking at next month.

This special offer code will be sent to all members of our meet-up community at the beginning of next month. If you are not already part of this, you can add yourself below. And if you do not wish to be a meet-up member but would still like the code, please email Matt here.

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So what books are available to get 10% off?

Nan Goldin, The Ballad of sexual dependency

John Gossage, The Pond

Robert Adams, Summer Nights, Walking

Sally Mann, Immediate Family

Stephen Shore, Uncommon Places

Japanese Photobooks of the 60’s and 70’s

Fred Ritchin – In our own image

William Christenberry, Kodachromes

Rinko Kawauchi, Illuminance

Bruce Davidson, Subway

Synopsis: Eugene Richards – Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue

Cocaine True, Cocaine Blue

Eugene Richards

Aperture, 1994 (Hardback)
Aperture, 1994 (Paperback)


Writing in the afterword to ʻCocaine True, Cocaine Blue,ʼ Dr. Stephen W. Nicholas writes,
ʻThe United States accounts for five percent of the worldʼs population and consumes 50
percent of the worldʼs cocaine,ʼ with approximately one million American teenagers and
young adults using cocaine for the first time each year, and the rate of cocaine-associated
physical, sociological, or family-related problems doubling nationwide since 1985.

In this powerful and raw book, Eugene Richards takes an in-depth and very intimate look
at the inhabitants of three troubled communities: East New York; North Philadelphia; and
the Red Hook Housing Project in Brooklyn, New York.

Alongside the bold and often graphic black-and-white images, are Richardsʼ own personal
observations and interviews, with additional comment by journalist Edward Barnes. These
interviews, with gang members, addicts, dealers, parents, children, the elderly, sex
workers, police, and the clergy. In one such observation Richards writes, ʻThere were 107
murders, 145 rapes, 3,285 robberies, and 547 felonious assaults in East New York in one
year, in a population of 160,000… This is how we first learn about Americaʼs troubled inner-
city neighborhoods, reading the most elemental and squalid statistics, the lists of atrocities
and casualties, the body counts that are no different from those posted during war.ʼ

In ʻCocaine True, Cocaine Blueʼ Richardsʼ offers a powerful insight, and alerts us to how
drugs can affect the very fabric of our society.

– Wayne Ford