A couple people have questioned my motivation for devoting so much time on this blog to Tod Papageorge. As I hopefully made clear in my first post, I’m not in awe of the Yale mystique. I don’t have aspirations for teaching there. I’ve been asked to visit, but declined (unlike every other school, they don’t pay travel expenses). Nor was I in awe of Papageorge. I’d only seen a handful of his beach pictures and didn’t think much of them.
The reason for all of my attention to Passing Through Eden is simple – I think it is a great book. But more to the point, it is the kind of book I aspire to make.
I once wrote (here) that I see most photographic practice falling on a spectrum with the two poles being Science and Poetry. Having posted a poem every Friday for the last 44 weeks, you might guess which side of the spectrum I find myself on.
My primary goal as a photographer is to make a great book within the tradition of literary photo books (The Americans, Treadwell). So when I encounter a new book that achieves that status, I want to know more.
Not long ago I read a fantastic book by J.M. Coetzee. Every so often I’d stop reading to take a look at his author picture. For better or worse, when you love a book, you want to know more about the author. In the case of Tod Papageorge, my knowledge of him and his work was very shallow. I wanted a better picture.
After all of the analysis and wordplay, I was doubtful that Papageorge would submit to further scrutiny. But he answered my request for an interview quickly and, as you will read soon, with great intelligence. Stay tuned. The Papagorgy isn’t over yet.