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Book of the Week: A Pick by Forrest Soper

Book of the Week Book of the Week: A Pick by Forrest Soper Forrest Soper selects Retrospecting Sandy Hill by Chris Shaw as Book of the Week.
Retrospecting Sandy HillBy Chris ShawMorel, 2015.
Forrest Soper selects Retrospecting Sandy Hill by Chris Shaw from Morel as Book of the Week.

"While attending university in 1987, Chris Shaw photographed the body of work found in Retrospecting Sandy Hill. Feeling alienated from his peers and wishing to connect with 'normal people,' Shaw began documenting the inhabitants of the Sandy Hill Estate. The resulting images are a collection of raw, honest, and curious photographs that bring you into the homes and everyday lives of these people.

Before you even open this book, the tone is set. The cover features a tipped-in photograph with unique hand-torn edges. Surrounding the image, handwritten text by Shaw has been reprinted, creating a crude and rough appearance. These stylistic motifs remain present throughout the course of this book. Handwritten notes are scrawled in the margins of the pages and the photographs have been ripped into a myriad of shapes and sizes. The images themselves also seem to have a sense of chaotic tension to them. Printed with high contrast, imperfect borders, and the occasional blurred subject, it is easy to draw visual parallels between Shaw’s imagery and the handmade zines of the underground punk movement. Close inspection, however, reveals the great level of thought that went into the creation of this book — much more than what can be grasped from a surface examination of the aesthetics.

Retrospecting Sandy Hill combines the energetic elements of a youthful photographer, unrestricted in the act of creation, with the knowledge of a veteran photographer looking back on early work with an understanding of the importance of context, sequencing, and the power photography holds as a communication device. This book goes far beyond a mere cultural document of a time and place, as the fragmented glimpses into the subject’s lives carry with them a strong emotional resonance. This book also does not pretend to be something it is not — it is straightforward and honest, yet still captivating on every page. Shaw is as real as it gets; he does not shy away from unpleasantries, nor does he over-romanticize them. This book is raw, rough, and crude, yet still holds on to the most essential aspect of the series — its humanity." —Forrest Soper

Retrospecting Sandy HillBy Chris ShawMorel, 2015.
Retrospecting Sandy HillBy Chris ShawMorel, 2015.

Forrest Soper is a photographer and artist based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico. A graduate of Santa Fe University of Art and Design, he also serves as an employee at both photo-eye Bookstore and Bostick & Sullivan.

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