The Disappearing Face of New York

I recently stumbled onto James and Karla Murray's book capturing mom and pop storefronts of New York (i'm slightly embarrassed to admit I found it surfing Amazon, instead of actually at an independent bookstore). On their site, they have a video of the making of Storefront, a project over the course of 10 years, where Karla admits that she was initially drawn to simply the beauty of these signs, the neon, the typography, the worn colors, but as they continued to shoot the stores, they'd get to know the owners, their stories, how they got into the business, it's glory days and now why the stores are closing, with the cultural phenomenon that wraps this point in history together with these lives.

Their progression of discovery reminds me of my friend Laura who memorizes poetry that she finds beautiful, but that she doesn't fully understand, so that as she takes it in, she can grasp it's meaning and relevance over time, internally. It's amazing what you can discover through dedicated looking and listening over time.

Sadly, more than half the shops captured in Storefront's pages have closed. I'm grateful that the Murray's took the time to make these photos and can't wait to study them all with the book in my hands.

the faces of the accused

The last several days for me have been rich with marveling at the work of unknown (at least in their day) photographers. First, the post on Poppytalk about Vivian Maier, the career nanny and secret photographer of breath-taking (often undeveloped in her lifetime) images. An now, the anonymous photographer(s) of the police department in New South Wales, Australia. These were the mugshots of the accused in the 1920s.

The french blog La boite verte shows an amazing collection of these images, taken from Peter Doyle's books Crooks Like Us and City of Shadows. What a difference these photos communicate compared to the common understanding of a mugshot. The photographer's sensitive eye seems to respect the complexity of the person and the poignancy of the moment when their lives will most certainly irrevocably change, either after committing a crime or being falsely accused.

Luc Sante offers his thoughtful perspective on A Very Short List, where I first read about the photos.