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photo-eye Gallery Introducing Reuben Wu
New Work & Interview
photo-eye Gallery Director Anne Kelly interviews our new represented artist Reuben Wu. Wu will make his photo-eye Gallery debut at our Photo LA exhibition.

Reuben Wu, LN 0309, Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, Edition of 10, $950
Every so often I have the privilege of introducing new represented artists at photo-eye Gallery. Reuben Wu is a creative genius who’s already made his mark in multiple mediums, including being a founding member of the British electronic band Ladytron. Wu caught my attention with his unique approach to the classic genre of landscape photography. Traveling to remote locations, Wu frames his subject matter, often expansive geographic formations, against the inky night sky—but his light source is neither natural or traditional studio lighting. Wu affixes lights to drones using them to illuminate select parts of the landscape occasionally drawing Saturn-like rings and other precise geometric marks in the night sky. Wu’s images freeze space and time, yielding images that feel simultaneously primordial and post-apocalyptic. He creates harmony between light and dark. We are excited to present two series by Wu, Lux Noctis and Aeroglyphs, now available on the Gallery's website. Reuben will make his exhibitory debut with photo-eye Gallery at Photo LA 2019, Jan 31–Feb 3 in booth G02. I’m pleased to share my recent conversation with Wu, and I hope you enjoy these beautiful, otherworldly new bodies of work!
–Anne Kelly, Gallery Director

» View Lux Noctis      » View Aeroglyphs

Reuben Wu, AE 0394 – Delta Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, 1/10, $950
Anne Kelly:     I was introduced to your work by your book publisher Kris Graves.  How did you get connected with Kris?

Reuben Wu:     We first met at Photolucida 2017 in Portland. It was my first portfolio review so I was a bit nervous. He asked me some tough questions and I liked the cut of his jib. After a few months had passed, we started discussing a book collaboration for my Lux Noctis project. It sold out pretty fast and was even added to the libraries at the Guggenheim, the Met and Art Institute in Chicago. It was great working with him; I just need to shoot more work so we can make a new book together.

Reuben Wu photographing on location.
AK:    You grew up in Liverpool, UK discovering and falling in love with the American South West as a child through National Geographic. Do you still have the same affinity for the South West? And did you know early on that photography was something you wanted to pursue?

RW:     I do. The UK has a lot of really beautiful natural scenery and I spent a lot of my childhood there hiking and climbing, but the desert landscapes of the American West was something I only saw in National Geographic or in epic films. They seemed so sublime and such a figment of my imagination that I thought I’d never see them with my own eyes, but since traveling the USA with my band and following on from then as a photographer living in the same country, I suddenly found myself within easy reach of these places. Each time I visit, my experience is like a half-dreamed memory fused with reality.

My first love was drawing, but I eventually decided to switch to using a camera as a quicker way to document my travels with my band. What started out as a hobby turned into an obsession, and now it's my full-time job. But even though my practice is photography, I don’t really think of it as such. I still draw compositions before I make them with the camera if I need to think through things or share ideas easily.

Reuben Wu, LN 6846, Archival Pigment Print,
17x17" Image, Edition of 10, $950
AK:     In addition to being a photographer, you’re also a keyboardist, DJ, and music producer with the popular band Ladytron—how does your music influence your photography?

RW:     Unless I create audiovisual work, where I’m able to combine the two disciplines, music doesn’t really influence my visual art, as I like to keep them separate. Visuals and music do have similar qualities though, like composition: the balance of elements, and the articulation of a mood.

AK:    Most creatives feel fortunate to make a career out of one art form, while you have pursued both visual arts and music with great success. What do you attribute your success to, and what advice or words of wisdom would you pass on to others pursuing creative dreams?

RW:    I’d say I’ve been lucky, but I think the more things you are interested in and are passionate about and the more people you communicate with, the more you can improve your chances of success. I also think having been an outsider all my life has helped me think more clearly about ideas and believing in my own imagination.

AK:     Your work has brought something completely new to at least a few well-covered genres—landscape photography and night photography. Was this a goal of yours or have you surprised yourself?

RW:     When I first set out to do more photography after taking a break with the band, I felt like I was learning how to articulate my vision, so I was experimenting with analog and digital processes, as well as combining these in specific locations, to create my work. This included doing 5 hour long exposures on a hacked Polaroid camera at the top of the mountain in New Zealand or capturing time lapse of projected patterns onto landscapes in the American South West. They were all ways to help me understand photography better, but they also helped me push into completely new areas, and I really enjoyed forging this path for myself.

A time-lapse behind-the-scenes video of Reuben Wu's photographic process.


AK:     You’ve clearly traveled to some amazing places making photographs. Your images feel simultaneously primordial and post-apocalyptic. What is your process for finding the location?

RW:     The locations are usually very remote and away from people because I much prefer to make the pictures in complete solitude. The remoteness of place helps me work on the creative process without distraction and without being observed, judged or questioned. It’s also important that I am in places where drone flight is not banned or isn’t too intrusive to the natural environment. The look of the images is inspired in part by 19th-century sublime landscape painting, so I do look for specific landforms and compositions which relate to that, as well as topography that lends itself to aerial lighting.

AK:     The images you create have a very Sci-Fi vibe. Are you a fan?

RW:     I do love sci-fi, but only a specific part of the genre. I’ve never been interested in Star Wars beyond my childhood because it just seemed like a fairytale which had no bearing on my reality. Instead, I was interested in more speculative fiction such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Solaris, and Blade Runner because they appeared to occupy elements of reality that I knew. They seemed more possible, and that had much more impact on me.

Reuben Wu, LN 0344, Archival Pigment Print, 
15x20" Image, Edition of 10, $950
AK:     You’ve said before when you began experimenting with photography it was with very low-tech gear and expired film. Now you use high-end technology with both your camera and lighting. What led you to make the transition?

RW:     When I was experimenting with analog processes, it was very much bound to the specifics of the medium: the many vintage cameras, the weird expired film types, and while that helped me understand photography better, it was also a distraction from the real goal, which was the image. I began thinking about what picture I wanted to make first, and then what equipment I needed to achieve that, second. It was a slow transition and I don’t shoot much film anymore but my original workflow of combining techniques and the element of craft still remains, just without the procrastination of what camera or film I should use.

AK:     And lastly, sweet or salty? What is your favorite dish from all the places you’ve traveled?

RW:     Salty. I always return to two favorite dishes. Chinese pan-friend dumplings and British Indian Curry.

• • • • •

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. 
Prices will increase as the print editions sell.

For more information, and to purchase prints, 
please contact Gallery Staff at 


photo-eye Gallery photo-eye Gallery at Photo LA 2019
New Portfolio & Interview
photo-eye Gallery is thrilled to be exhibiting at Photo LA in 2019. Held at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California on January 31 through February 3rd, Photo LA is a premier photographic art exposition returning for its 27th season.

Reuben Wu, LN 0377 Time Present and Time Past are Both Perhaps Present in Time Future III, Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, Edition of 10, $950
photo-eye Gallery is thrilled to be exhibiting at Photo LA in 2019. Held at Barker Hanger in Santa Monica, California on January 31 through February 3rd, Photo LA is a premier photographic art exposition returning for its 27th season. Our booth, #G02, will feature a diverse selection of work,  including represented artist Tom Chambers' new series Tales of Heroines and Jo Whaley's Botanical Studies, as well as Photographer's Showcase artists such as Bryant Austin and his striking Solar Transit images. We'd also like to announce our newest represented artist Reuben Wu, making his photo-eye debut at Photo LA. A selection of exhibiting artists is listed below along with a brief preview of works we're bringing to the fair. If you are in the Los Angeles area or will be making the trip out to Photo LA we'd love to have you drop by the booth.


photo-eye Gallery at Photo LA
Jan 31 – Feb 3, 2019
Barker Hanger, Santa Monica, CA


Exhibiting Artists

Reuben Wu
& Others


Artwork Preview

Kate Breakey, Six Pears Archival Pigment Ink on Glass, 24kt Gold Leaf, 7x16" Image, Edition of 20, $1700
Bryant Austin, Cathedral Spires Solar Entrance I - Yosemite, 2016, Archival Pigment Print, 
 22x15" Image, Edition of 10, $3400

Bryant Austin, From Safety to Where - Cathedral Spires Solar Transit - Yosemite, 2016 Archival Pigment Print, 
 22x15" Image, Edition of 10, $3400

Tom Chambers, Hide Your Eyes, 2018Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, Edition of 20, $950
Tom Chambers, Now, Now, 2018, Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, Edition of 20, $950
Tom Chambers, Nesting With Scissors, 2018Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, Edition of 20, $950
Mitch Dobrowner, Fly Geyser, Location: Black Rock Desert, Nevada, 2018, Archival Pigment Ink, 20x30" Image,
 Edition of 45, $2500
Mitch Dobrowner, Monument Valley, 2014Archival Pigment Ink, 20x30" Image, Edition of 40, $4000
Thomas Jackson, Straws no. 4, Mono Lake, California, 2015 Archival Pigment Print, 20x25" Image, Edition of 5, $2500
Jo Whaley, Clematis, 2018, Archival Pigment Print, 24x19" Image, Edition of 25, $2000
Jo Whaley, Eucalyptus, Archival Pigment Print, 24x19" Image, Edition of 25, $2000
Reuben Wu, AE 0394 – Delta, Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, 1/10, $950
Reuben Wu, LN 0309, Archival Pigment Print, 15x20" Image, Edition of 10, $950

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. 
Prices will increase as the print editions sell.

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com







Book Of The Week Hot Mirror Photographs by Viviane Sassen Reviewed by Owen Kobasz Viviane Sassen is one of today's most innovative photographers and this stunning book looks back at a decade of her work, including new collages and previously unpublished photographs.
Hot Mirror. By Viviane Sassen.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=PX327
Hot Mirror
Photographs by Viviane Sassen

Prestel, Munich, Germany, 2018.
160 pp., 95 color and 9 black-and-white illustrations, 9½x13x½".

Formally, Hot Mirror is a mid-career retrospective. Pulling from Umbra, Flamboya, Roxane II, and more, this new book contains a survey of Vivianne Sassen’s fine art photography to date, with an emphasis on surrealism. Hot Mirror, however, doesn’t feel like a retrospective, or at least not a traditional one.

Sassen’s previous publications were single series, each bound by a concrete thesis. Hot Mirror breaks the mold by drawing a selection of her photographs from the past two decades and are revivifying them with a new context. Arranged asymmetrically and surrounded by a luxurious amount of negative space, the themes and colors are often juxtaposed, evoking a strange dreamlike feeling.

Luxaflex, from Of Mud and Lotus, 2017
The image, Luxaflex, taken from Of Mud and Lotus, shows two people twisted together. Green lines obscure their faces and bodies and the background — leaving just their arms, legs, and hair untouched. It’s as though everything has been censored save their limbs and hair, but her use of green makes it fun and playful. On the opposite page, sits Mirror Man, a much older photo from the series Flamboya. The mirror reflects a grey cinder block wall and a man stands in the gap. He is tilted forward so that his face is hidden behind the mirror. Sassen’s images allow only half to be seen, but the other half is just as important.

“I’m fascinated by what is hidden, but I think it’s fine for it to stay hidden. I don’t need to investigate everything, and that includes inside myself. So, there’s that discrepancy between revealing and concealing again,” she told Robbert Ammerlaan in an interview reproduced in Hot Mirror.

Menthe, from Flamboya, 2007
The subtle thesis of Hot Mirror is surrealism, a movement that Sassen has long referenced as one of her primary influences. In these photographs, the parts can be easily identified — they show ordinary objects, people, and places — but put together, when the viewer tries to really understand exactly what is going on, it starts to break down. There is something off, out of place, like how a dream makes sense mid-dream but becomes absurd in hindsight. But then there is the third stage — when they become beautiful.


“Surrealism is the ability to experience or look at things in a way that's unbiased, free of judgment and convention — almost like looking through the eyes of a child.” — Vivianne Sassen
Spaced throughout the book on a thinner, translucent paper, is a tale titled The Eye of the Eucalyptus Tree. Comprised of poetic text fragments, Sassen recalls memories from her childhood. Only a few lines long, each excerpt describes a moment, sensation, or family tradition — almost like snapshots from a time before the photographer carried her camera.

Fantôme, from Parasomnia, 2010
The last piece of The Eye of the Eucalyptus reads:

“I would dream of baobabs coming to life at night and running around silently. I once found a squirrel on the bottom of a dry swimming pool, by a lodge not far from the Mara River. That squirrel was a bit strange, as it sang a beautiful song about loneliness in a foreign language. When it had finished, I wanted to say thank you, but it gave me a slightly superior look and disappeared down the drain of the swimming pool.”

A confusing dream seems a fitting conclusion to Hot Mirror. Like a Max Ernst painting, the photographs and text are not meant to be clear and intuitive, especially when taken as a group. Through them, however, Sassen is outlining something difficult to describe, something that leaves poets and painters alike tonged-tied.

The book ends with a strong essay by Eleanor Clayton, which gives the reader context for understanding the development of Sassen’s work and its relationship to surrealism. Towards the end of the essay she quotes from the Manifesto of Surrealism by André Breton:
“In this dizzying race the images appear like the only guideposts of the mind. By slow degrees the mind becomes convinced of the supreme reality of these images… The mind becomes aware of the limitless expanses wherein its degrees are made manifest.”

Purchase Book



Owen Kobasz edits the blog & newsletter at photo-eye. He holds a BA in the liberal arts from St. John's College and takes photos in his free time.

photo-eye Gallery Gallery Favorites
Tom Chambers: Tales of Heroines
New Portfolio & Interview
In this new interview with Tom Chambers, Galley Associate Julian Worthington askes the artist about his process and the new series Tales of Heroines.

Tom Chambers, Tea for Two, 2018, Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, Edition of 20, $950
Sally Chambers, Gallery Associate Juliane
Worthington, Tom Chambers
photo-eye Gallery is so proud to be exhibiting Tom Chambers' work in the Hearts and Bones exhibition currently on view through February 16, 2019. I had the opportunity to meet Tom and his beautiful wife Sally the week of the opening. Not only is Tom an extremely talented artist, but he and his wife are very salt-of-the-earth people. It's been a pleasure to represent Tom over the last ten years and watch his career bloom and grow. If you're visiting Santa Fe we hope to see you in the gallery! Chambers' entire portfolio collection, including the brand new series Tales of Heroines, is available to view and purchase online through the photo-eye website.

--Juliane Worthington, Gallery




Tom Chambers, Victory At Sea, 2018 Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, Edition of 20, $950

Juliane Worthington:     You’ve said in past interviews that your process usually begins with a sketch of a vision or idea from which you build the piece. When creating an entirely new series like Tales of Heroines, does your process mimic the individual print composition process or do you have another strategy for birthing a new body of work?

Tom Chambers, Moat Float, 2018 
Archival Pigment Print, 28x29" Image, 
Edition of 10, $2300
Tom Chambers:      I have used my daughter in many of my images and decided that this series would pay homage to strong young women. This latest series, however, evolved a little differently from the rest.  I wanted to take my work in a new direction.  Until recently most of my imagery has been a square format often with the faces hidden.  I had to shake things up in order to keep it interesting, so I established guidelines for myself.  For some time I have been interested in creating a portrait series which would continue to include a storytelling element. I decided to do full-bodied portraits with the subject gazing directly at the camera.  These figures would need to be similar in height within the frame.  The horizon line would be somewhat close to knee level and the overall color muted.  I did not want to give up the narrative aspect of my imagery, so something happens in each image which sparks or initiates a story.

Once I established these parameters, I developed these images in a similar way to my older series.  First, I make a thumbnail sketch of an idea that might pop into my head.  I shoot separately the different elements, including the background, animals or props that appear in the image.  The children are photgraphed outdoors in clothing that supports the story.  I find any clothes or props I need on Etsy or in my overcrowded basement.  After I completed several images, I experimented with adding the arch at the top.  This gave the images a medieval iconic look or a nod to the imagery of the pre-Renaissance period.  It also gives the viewer a feeling that they are looking through a portal into another reality.

Tom Chambers, Lightning in a Jar, 2018, 
Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, 
Edition of 20, $950

JW:      When visitors come to see your work in the gallery often there’s a strong reaction to the background scenery you use. Even though your work is fictional, your fans are always excited when they recognize a part of the scene. How do you go about finding the location that makes the backdrop for your surreal montages?

TC:      I plan my travel around places that provide great backgrounds for images such as Iceland, Italy or the American West.  However, I don't shoot your typical travel shots. Instead, I look for landscapes, structures, or objects that I can use in my imagery.  These would be shots to which I can add a figure or elements to tell a story.  I love overcast days and places like Iceland are quick to supply those cloudy days.

In advance, I typically research an area so that I have some ideas about where I might find photographic material. I don’t enjoy organized tours when traveling and will usually go the car rental route. This requires jumping from the car at a moment’s notice after spotting an interesting scene.


Tom Chambers, Now, Now, 2018 
Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, 
Edition of 20, $950

JW:      What advice would you give to other photographers or students looking to pursue a career in photography?

TC:     I've always felt that having a day job with a guaranteed income is insurance against starvation.  In the field of photography, there are lots of options to find work related to being behind the camera. For many years I worked as a graphic designer and art director. Because I didn't have to rely on photo sales, I was able to create my personal photography without the thought of what might sell.  Although the positive reinforcement of a sale is great, there are other ways to see if your work is viable, including juried art shows. This gives an artist the chance for feedback on his work.

Also, as an artist and photographer, I think it's critical to stay current with what is happening in the different visual arts fields. Looking at other people’s art on the internet, through social media, in magazines and at museums and galleries gets me cranked. Without that kind of input, I would feel stale.

JW:     Where do you get your inspiration from? Are there certain artists or films, musicians or daily practices that keep you motivated to create?

TC:     I have been very influenced by painters and writers.  Having grown up in Southeastern Pennsylvania, I connect with the emotionality of Andrew Wyeth’s imagery and especially his color palette.  Also from the Northeast, Winslow Homer’s pastoral landscapes and Maine coastline images inspire me. The magic realism of Frida Kahlo and photographer Graciela Iturbide have impacted my work.  A more contemporary painter, Odd Nerdrum creates a complex narrative about man’s struggle for survival through his figurative painting set in landscapes. I love the imagery of the painter Andrea Kowich, whose narrative paintings also depict human experiences with the natural world. In the literary world, I have been inspired by the magic realism of Cormac McCarthy, Toni Morrison, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez.

Music is very important to me and I listen to it constantly as a way to relax, as well as for artistic inspiration. Although I grew up listening to the Beatles and The Rolling Stones, now I listen to mostly contemporary music. Some favorites include Neko Case, Laura Veirs, Phosphorescent, Alejandro Escovedo, Bon Iver, and a wide variety of singer-songwriters.

JW:     Many of your compositions take at least a month to make from start to finish, with upwards of
Tom Chambers, Water Is Life, 2019, 
Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image,
 Edition of 20, $950
20 photographs pieced together with great care and precision. How do you know when an image is ready? And, how do you feel releasing it after spending so much time with it?


TC:     When I feel like an image is close to completion I will typically sit on it for a week or two.  I’ll continually go back and look at it and maybe make small changes until it feels right.  I'm not anxious realizing new images; I love to have my work out there receiving feedback from the public.  After working as a graphic designer for 35 years I've developed a pretty thick skin.  I love any feedback, whether positive or negative.

JW:     One of the questions gallery visitors ask the most is where you live. My standard answer is that you were born and raised in Lancaster, PA, but now live in Richmond, VA with your wife and daughter. How do you feel your geographical location, now or during your childhood, has influenced your work? And in all your travels have you ever been tempted to live outside of the US?

TC:     My environment during my childhood definitely influenced my work. Until my twenties, I lived on our family farm. My grandparents who also lived on the farm and worked as artists had a major influence on me. My grandfather was a painter and illustrator for magazines, and my grandmother painted watercolors of rural life. On the farm, I spent hours in the woods or fields, caught up in my own imagination.  Like most of the artists who have inspired me, the landscape has always played an important part in my imagery. Currently living in Richmond, I enjoy access to the mountains, rivers, and coastline, where I can hike, kayak, and canoe.

In my early years, I had opportunities to live outside the United States. I spent four years in the Navy traveling to over twenty countries and later I lived in the US Virgin Islands where I met my wife. Currently, I would love to spend a month or two in Portugal or Southern Italy to photograph and soak up the culture. Perhaps that will happen.

Tom Chambers, Nesting With Scissors, 2018Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, Edition of 20, $950

JW:     In the current exhibition of work here in the gallery, which includes pieces you’ve created over the last two decades, there are almost exclusively female subjects. In our current political climate, and considering the historical struggle women have faced, is there an overall theme or message you wish to convey through these young women and girls in your images? And is there any significance most of them are barefoot?

TC:     Great question. My wife and I have a daughter, and as she was growing up I became aware of the many developmental transitions that she experienced. Out of that, I created my Rite of Passage series. My daughter was and still is an animal lover, and as she grew up I noticed the special connection that she shared with domestic and wild animals. Both my daughter and the animals possessed a sense of vulnerability and resilience, and so many of my images contain both girls and animals. And now in my latest series Tales of Heroines that theme of resiliency continues. Each of the girls in this series squarely faces you and directly looks at you.  I hope that I am conveying that strength that I see in girls and women as they face and conquer challenges.

Tom Chambers, Half-noise, 2018 
Archival Pigment Print, 22x13" Image, 
Edition of 20, $950
As far as the shoe question, I have made the decision to reinforce the timeless nature of my images. Shoes and haircuts often give away the time period.

JW:     How have the women in your life contributed to the visions, ideas, and execution of your creative career?

TC:     My life has been filled with strong women, including my paternal grandmother who was a painter and corralled me from the fields on our farm to teach me how to paint. My 92-year-old mother raised five boys all born within a ten year period, and still has deep admiration from all my brothers. My wife and I enjoy traveling together to explore new cultures and learn about their art which also inspires my photography. We both enjoy going to artistic events, museums, and galleries. And when I slow down to construct a photomontage, my wife helps me with some of the administrative aspects of running a photography business. And finally, my daughter has been a joy and inspiration for twenty-nine years.

JW:     Thank you so much, Tom, for sharing your thoughts with us, and we wish you great success with this inspiring new series, Tales of Heroines!

• • • • •

All prices listed were current at the time this post was published. 
Prices will increase as the print editions sell.

For more information, and to purchase prints, please contact Gallery Staff at 
505-988-5152 x202 or gallery@photoeye.com


Tom Chambers:
Hearts and Bones
On view through February 16th, 2019

» View Hearts and Bones

» View Tales of Heroines


» See our Favorites from Hearts and Bones


» Purchase the Monograph 

photo-eye Gallery
541 S. Guadalupe Street
Santa Fe, Nm 87501
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Book Of The Week Taradiddle Photographs by Charles Traub Reviewed by Blake Andrews Twenty years ago, New York–based photographer Charles H. Traub (born 1945) abandoned all pretense of trying to find specific themes and subjects in his photographic wanderings, instead creating what he calls 'Taradiddles,' in which he fully embraced any and all ironic situations.
Taradiddle. By Charles Traub.
https://www.photoeye.com/bookstore/citation.cfm?catalog=DT284
Taradiddle
Photographs by Charles Traub

Damiani, 2018. 
116 pp., 102 illustrations, 9½x11¾".

Charles Traub has quietly exerted his influence on an entire generation of photographers, having served as founder of the precursor to MOCP in Chicago, director of Light Gallery, founding chair of the MFA photo program at SVA, creator of Here Is New York, president of the Aaron Siskind Foundation. The list goes on. His fingerprints are everywhere in photographic education, even in the form of a titular 2006 book, The Education of A Photographer.

Throughout his career in academia, Traub has been busy taking photos. He's been at it almost a half-century now, producing several monographs along the way. An early student of Meatyard and Siskind, Traub's photos have always danced on the edge of reality. But Traub's style is looser than his mentors’, favoring a snapshot aesthetic, which has blossomed in the current age of digital profligacy. “For me,” says Traub, “serendipity, coincidence and chance are more interesting than any preconceived construct of our human encounters.” If he's always been leery of staid concepts like tripods and previsualization, his most recent book declares open war against them. Indeed, it challenges the notion of photographic truth itself, starting with the title: Taradiddle: 1. A Petty Lie; 2. Pretentious nonsense.

This definition is announced in bold type on the opening page. It sets a defiant tone for the pages to follow, sandwiched by a similar declaration at the end: “[the photos] were all observed in the real world and only when captured by my camera, as seen in the moment, did they become fabrications.”

Such fabrications, one hundred of them, comprise the meat of a book that is primarily about photography itself. If “photography has thickened the modern environment to the point of torpor,” as David Campany’s afterword describes the situation, Traub takes up the challenge. “BRING THE CAMERA,” shouts the book’s very first photo, a message handwritten on a rock. This is followed by photos of shutterbugs doing just that, four among the next six images. One of them is Traub himself, caught in a quiet moment of self-reflection. “Just what is photography, anyway?” he seems to be asking. “Why do it?” His mirrored face is framed in by hundreds of small studio headshots, an answer of sorts.

Appropriated images continue as a central motif throughout the book. Traub incorporates posters, advertisements, graffiti, and murals into his photos. Renaissance paintings make several appearances, as do animal statues, billboards, and other street tropes. These are sometimes shot in hackneyed ways — by now we've all seen a thousand cute posters juxtaposed with pedestrians — but they hammer home Traub’s thesis: as image makers in a media-saturated world, photographers must come to grips with the surroundings. If that means incorporating images into photos, so be it.

In this sense, Taradiddle continues the quixotic quest of his earlier books. Dolce Vita, Lunch Time, and In the Still Life (with two photos from Taradiddle) also picked chance moments from a colorful image-drenched world. But those books had ulterior themes. In its title and approach, Taradiddle is a coming out party for Traub, his declaration after a half-century that structured projects are secondary to the basic riddle of image-making.

Questions of fidelity have nagged at photography since its inception. In Hine’s words, “Photographs don't lie but liars may photograph.” For some photographers, fighting words. But Traub is untroubled. He tackles the issue sideways, with prankster delight. Lifting his photos above the theoretical fray is a playful sense of humor, something “devoid” in the medium according to Traub. Campany links this light touch to the profound, “in the way that photography seems uniquely predisposed to the profound: by being naturally and unapologetically light.” But such intellectual gymnastics aren't necessary to enjoy Traub’s photos. Beyond the petty lies, beyond pretentious nonsense, the profound pleasure of looking is enough.


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Blake Andrews is a photographer based in Eugene, OR. He writes about photography at blakeandrews.blogspot.com.