Short Review: A New American Picture

Doug Rickard, A New American PictureThis is one of those “why didn’t I think of that” books, or more accurately, “I kind of thought of that but never got around to doing it” books. Doug Rickard travels the country via Google Street View and creates a virtual street photography from the massive library of automatically generated images. Rickard gravitates to images of more or less distressed locations that include people, which means he is drawing from a small percentage of available pictures. I’m impressed with the patience this must require.

As the book notes, his approach lets him show places he’s never been and would probably never get to physically. (He says he works as though he’s on a virtual road trip.) Because the pictures are both automated and anonymous, there is a kind of intimacy that’s different than what an in-person photographer is likely to achieve. I’m not completely sold on his preference for poverty, but his selection of images delivers┬ácompelling results. He actually photographs the scenes off a computer screen using a digital camera. That applies a distortion layer that adds some artfulness to the pictures, as well as, I imagine, some copyright safety.

A quick read and worth a look for anyone interested in street photography.

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