One of the first, if not the first, photography books I ever owned was by Eliot Porter.
Primarily known for his landscape and nature imagery, the book I picked up that day was one based on his images of the state of Maine. My possession of the book lasted about 2 hours. I had a sudden change of heart and swapped it for Brassai’s ‘Paris after Dark.’
My feeling was that somehow, for a city dweller like me, the images of Paris represented something closer to my outlook on the world.
Recently I came across a large archive of Porter’s work, which made me regret the decision not to stick with my original choice (in reality I should have brought both books)
The pictures of birds and forests and Mexican icons have a quiet beauty to them, made all the more charming by the lack of Photoshop sheen that ruins many of the images you find in modern day National Geographic’s.
The colors too feel subtle and closer to nature than much of modern digital imaging.
Somehow Porter’s manages not just to capture a pretty image of a wood or a bird, he captures the soul of that thing.
It’s this feeling of communing with nature that we so crave in modern life. Porter’s images give us that without stepping outside of our city front doors.
That said prolonged exposure to his work makes me feel that a road trip to New England is long overdue.