PRINT May 2003


AT THE AGE OF TWENTY-FIVE, STEPHEN SHORE SET OFF BY CAR FROM HIS native Manhattan and headed west. The year was 1972, and the America he discovered though the lens of his 35 mm range finder, a vast network of windswept back roads and empty downtowns, would inspire him to crisscross the country some ten more times during the decade that followed. By his second outing a year later, Shore had traded in the 35 millimeter for a 4 x 5 (a slower, more exacting large-format camera, later replaced by an even bulkier 8 x 10), initiating the seminal document of the American vernacular that would come to be known as Uncommon Places, after the title of the 1982 Aperture collection.

The large-plate view camera was the signature tool of nineteenth-century American survey photographers like William Henry Jackson and Timothy O’Sullivan, who employed the format to record (and promote) the western landscape

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