* All images used with permission. Please do not distribute without first contacting the artist.
Alec’s photography is acclaimed for having both a cinematic and folkloric feel: it evokes and hints at the story behind the image he is photographing.
Soth’s camera is a breadbox-sized R.H. Phillips and Sons 8×10 Compact camera from the late 1980s that makes diamond-edged, almost painting-like pictures. His process of photographing is complicated and reliant both on fortuity and the artist’s control. He follows the complicated and nebulous process of using the large-format camera, a device that must be reconstructed anew on each use from a variety of parts, and that uses large and expensive negatives that slide into the back. Further, the camera’s lens is particularly sensitive to variations in light and has a shallow field of focus that causes much fussiness in the artist. Soth says he is lucky if he manages to make one or two exposures on a given day of shooting. This is, of course, very different from the photographic norm in the load-and-shoot era of 35mm and digital cameras.
He has received fellowships from the McKnight and Jerome Foundations and was the recipient of the 2003 Santa Fe Prize for Photography. His photographs are in major public and private collections, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Fine Arts Houston and the Walker Art Center. His work has been featured in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including the 2004 Whitney Biennial.
"Alec Soth's photographic style pulls us inside the intimate space of strangers, examining the everyday in a way that celebrates the banal, the awkward, the secrets and love letters that were thought to have been thrown away long ago. It's an addictive work that prods you to keep looking, each image is somehow surprising, enticing, and ordinary, but always beautiful."