Christopher Anderson opened the morning program of Masters Talks today at LOOK3 Festival of the Photograph in Charlottesville, VA, in front of a packed crowd at the Paramount Theater downtown.

Anderson is exhibiting his latest body of work, “Son,” at the festival. The project focuses on his family as his young son grows from a baby into a toddler and his father battles illness.

During his talk Anderson called the project, which shows his wife and son, his father, and landscapes and cityscapes, “the most important work I’ve ever done,” though it deals with what he called “simple, obvious themes” of life-cycles and the relationships between fathers and sons.

Though he mostly let the work speak for itself, he presented other photographs from throughout his career as a way of telling the story of how he ended up, after living out of a suitcase for seven years, working close to home.

While shooting a group of refugees fleeing Haiti in a wooden boat, Anderson nearly lost his life as the boat sank. He was rescued by the Coast Guard. The experience was transformative, he said, because it made him wonder why, when he thought he was going to die, he chose to make pictures that “no one would ever see.” Photography is “a way of explaining the world to myself,” he said, a “vehicle to process and understand” what he was experiencing. He realized he needed to take pictures that were about more than simply reporting the facts of a situation.

Because editors “decided I would put up with a certain amount of discomfort” he was asked to photograph war and he took those assignments in places like Afghanistan and Lebanon without ever making a conscious decision to become a war photographer. By 2002 he was burned out, though, and bored with the pictures he was making.

He began carrying a Holga around and playing a sort of game where he would take just one frame of a particular subject. The work was turned into a book, Nonfiction, and it also helped him realize he was interested in making pictures that were less technically focused and more emotional and direct.

He funneled that direct approach into his study of Venezuela, Capitolio, which was published as a book and iPad app, and then into his work about his family.

Up until his son was born and he began photographing at home, photography had been a way of escaping Abilene, Texas, where he grew up, and a way of avoiding being “who I was supposed to be.” (When asked during Q&A who he was supposed to be, he said he had long since forgotten.)
–Conor Risch

Related Story:
EProject: A Photo Monograph as iPad App



How Lee Friedlander Edits His Photo Books

Posted by on Wednesday July 5, 2017 | Events

Lee Friedlander's Self Portraits, published in 1970.

Lee Friedlander has published 50 books in his career to date. And he’s not stopping. The legendary photographer (born 1933) and his grandson, Giancarlo T. Roma, recently revived Haywire Press, the self-publishing company Friedlander established in the 1970s. Roma interviewed his grandfather on stage at the New York Public Library on June 20. The talk,... More

Home of Pioneering Woman Photographer Named LGBTQ Historic Site

Posted by on Wednesday June 21, 2017 | Events

Photo inscribed "The Darned Club'/A.A" Collection of Historic Richmond Town/ © Staten Island Historical Society

The Alice Austen House, the home of the trailblazing woman photographer, was designated a national site of LGBTQ history by the National Park Service on June 20.  Austen (1866-1952) lived at her waterfront home on Staten Island, New York, for decades with her companion, Gertrude Tate. The house is now a museum devoted to interpreting... More

Lee Friedlander to Give First Public Talk in 30 Years

Posted by on Wednesday May 31, 2017 | Events

Master photographer Lee Friedlander will be speaking at the New York Public Library on June 26. This will be the photographer’s first public talk in 30 years. He’ll be joined on stage in conversation with his grandson, writer Giancarlo T. Roma. Roma and Friedlander recently relaunched Haywire, the publishing company that Friedlander started in the... More