Alec Soth is a huge inspiration on me, a contemporary American photographer who dabbles in the grim realities of life, but always manages to coat them just enough not to depress the hell out of you. Some of his photographs are openly unbiased views of the human race, while others are just statements about how we live and the environment that surrounds us. Two books I received recently take my breath away: one is Soth’s Columbian photographic memoirs Dog Days, Bogota; the other is his peculiar photo diary, Niagara. Both books mix deep elements of tragic realism molded with Soth’s own thumbprint of bold lighting techniques and wide exposures.
Niagara contains anonymous love letters and suicide letters of common misfits and locals who share nothing that special except that they live near the most beautiful waterfall in the world. As one women notes, ‘I can’t go on like this. I hate you always. Take Care and Drop Dead’.
Dog Days, Bogota combines elements of clear desperation in the faces of the local Bogotans with astonishing landscape shots, like the one below.