Over spring break we took a family trip to Tucson. While there I visited University of Arizona’s Center for Creative Photography. The exhibit was series of street and documentary photographs by Magnum photographer Charles Harbutt called “Departures and Arrivals.” It’s the kind of work that has classic juxtapositions of reflections, shadows, words on buildings versus positions of people on streets, marvelous stuff. It was the purest form of photography.
The show is a collection of both physical and metaphorical arrivals and departures that were culled from decades of Harbutt’s work. It’s the kind of show that comes about when unseen patterns begin to reveal themselves via a photographer’s personal philosophy in shooting. Overall it’s my favorite approach to shows, as opposed to the deliberate process of creating show material that I find myself engaged in, or the “greatest hits” style shows.
The images themselves feature living individuals within intriguing environments- a young bride in a basement, businessmen clandestinely deciding the fates of thousands on the steps of Wall Street. The above image was one of my favorites, an uncomfortably resting man diminished by a maddening floral wall pattern.
I came away from the show determined to make my compositions more interesting, to evoke stories and balance subject and environment. “Departures and Arrivals” continues through June 1st at the Center For Creative Photography on U of A’s campus in Tucson, Arizona.