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Continuing on with my list of influential photographers, Walker Evans is an obvious choice.  He has a style so simple and clean that it seems to claim to be no style at all, merely the simple truth.  I think of Robert Adam’s line that a sense of truth is the most sensuous of all the sensibilities–Walker Evans convinces us that he saw, and is showing us, the truth.

Walker Evans, Shoe Store

This image was made for the Farm Security Administration, and so is available through the Library of Congress–I managed to purchase an old contact print of this image, and it hangs in my home.

This image is published in a book called Walker Evans:  Photographs for the Farm Security Administration, 1935-1938, which shows all the Walker Evans images available from the Library of Congress.  There are a total of 488 images in this catalog, predominately done with an 8×10 view camera, although some of them were clearly done with a 35 mm camera.  There are variations in the quality of the images–not every picture succeeds as well as the one above–but the number of strong images is striking.  It is astonishing what can be accomplished in just a few images, when the camera is in the hands of someone like Walker Evans.

Cushman Street, Fairbanks, 1994, Dennis Witmer

And, of course, Walker Evans never came to Fairbanks, but maybe he would have made an image like the one above, if he had.


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