heroes & Mentors
photoGraphy aCroSS GenerationS
For many photographers,
conversations with other
they heroes, mentors
or friends—are an
important part of their
professional lives. They
critique and inspire
each other creatively;
about technique and
craft; debate the future
and rehash the past;
argue; and they learn.
We asked a handful
of photographers whom
they would like to meet
and talk with. We wanted
to let PDN readers listen
in on these conversations
between some of the
most influential people
in photography, whose
work spans generations
and genres. We think
these exchanges offer
insights into the past,
present, and future of
In the following pages
you’ll find portions of
More from these and
other conversations will
appear on PDNOnline
stephen shore and
program at Bard College. His work has been exhibited at museums and galleries all over the world.
© CARLOS LOPES
Stephen Shore’s color photographs were first exhibited at the
Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1971 when he was just 24 years
old. In 1982 he published his groundbreaking book, Uncommon
Places (Aperture). American Surfaces (Schirmer/Mosel) was
first published in 1999. Among his many awards, he received a
Guggenheim Fellowship in 1975, and National Endowment for the
Arts fellowships in 1974 and 1979. Since 1982, he has been the Susan
Weber Soros Professor in the Arts and director of the photography
GreGory CrewdSon received an MFA from Yale University’s
School of Art in 1988. Best known for his elaborately staged,
cinematic color images of small town America, he has exhibited
his work in museums and galleries internationally. He published
his first book, Hover (Artspace), in 1995. His other books include
Twilight (Abrams, 2003), Beneath the Roses (Abrams, 2008)
and Sanctuary (Abrams, 2010). Crewdson was awarded the
Skowhegan Medal for Photography in 2004, and has received
© DANIEL KARP
National Endowment for the Arts (1992) and Aaron Siskind (1991) fellowships. Since 1993, he has
been an adjunct professor in the graduate photography program at the Yale School of Art.
Crewdson interviewed Shore on May 5, 2011, at the International Center for Photography
in New York City.
GreGory Crewdson: When did you first under-
stand the magic of photography?
stephen shore: The magic of photography began in
the darkroom when I was six. I was given a darkroom set
made by Kodak for my birthday. I wasn’t taking pictures;
I was just developing my family’s negatives and making
prints. When I was eight I got a 35mm rangefinder cam-
era and started taking pictures. Within a couple of years I
knew this was what I was going to be doing.
influence. Emmet Gowin once came to Bard and referred
to feeling a spiritual kinship to someone. There’s something in my temperament that just connects to [Evans].
The word that comes to mind is classical, in terms of an
understanding of the relationship of structure and content, and an empathetic distance.
Crewdson: When did you become conscious of pho-
Crewdson: Would you consider him a central early
tography as art and as a tradition?
shore: I was living in New York and our upstairs neigh-
bor gave me for my tenth birthday a copy of [Walker]
Evans’s American Photographs, so that was the first pho-
tography book I owned. Evans’s work really stood out, as
it still does.
shore: Yes. In fact, I would say it was more than an
Crewdson: How did you move from smaller format
cameras to the large format?
shore: I spent a couple of years making conceptually
based sequences using 35mm. This led to exploring the
vernacular uses of photography. One of the projects I
did was making snapshots with a camera called a Mick-
A-Matic, which is a big plastic head of Mickey Mouse.
The following year with the 35mm I did a series called
“American Surfaces.” They were exhibited as snapshots,
but as time went on I became less interested in them as
snapshots and more interested in some visual questions
I had. I wanted to make bigger prints and needed a larg-
er negative, so my intention was to continue “American
Surfaces” but with a larger camera.