Sunday, October 14, 2012

History Of Photography Road Trip, #1

I've lived here so long at this point that I forget I'm not a local. Found myself driving thru Hayward, CA and realize I certainly must visit Buffalo Bill's Brewery.

Photographer Bill Owens' published SUBURBIA in 1973. He got a Guggenheim in 1976 and opened Buffalo Bill's Brewery in 1983.
I fully enjoyed Orange Blossom Cream Ale, but in the mid 90's, SUBURBIA changed everything for me. My original photography teacher always shared Owens' work with the students, but as a young photographer, I didn't grasp it. As I got older and found myself a dweller in the suburbs of Phoenix, I finally got it.

While working on Sex Machines : Photographs and Interviews, I kept a copy of SUBURBIA with me on the trips. The warmth and humor that he looked at the people and the places in that book was something I wanted to emulate and borrow. Of course the publishers and I begged Bill to write an introduction to the book. Bill declined, wisely I'm sure, but made it a point to come to a book reading party in SF. He was known and respected by everyone in the audience. The picture above is Bill at the party in 2005.

Originally I was dis-illusioned to hear about Owen's exit from photography and entrance into brewing. From where I am now, I see it as wise: he could do photography as he wanted to, and use another part of his brain as well.
Time changes the way we look at photographs, as well as the way we look at life decisions. And on this day, it struck me as a two great contributions.

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