By Stephen Harmon
The photographer who had the greatest influence on me was Walker Evans. Evans is probably best known for his work during the Depression, documenting the poverty-stricken farmers and sharecroppers in the South and the general rural life in that area. His photo of Allie May Burroughs is one of the most famous photos in the history of photography. That photo taught me how to make a portrait such as the ones I have posted here, as well as thousands of others I have made during my 50 years or more as a photographer.
Evans, in those Depression years, worked with a large-view camera yielding 8×10 negatives. He photographed buildings, stores, churches, advertising, movie posters, main streets in small towns, barber shops and roadside stands – just about anything that showed life with a straight-on style that said, “This is it.” I always try to achieve that style in images.
From 1938 into the early 1940s, Evans created a body of subway photos of “unguarded moments,” photographing people sitting across from him with a camera hidden in his coat. He was limited by the technology of the time. It was because of Evans that I have made similar, yet different, subway photos.
There is so much more I could say about Evans, but I don’t want to bore you. I am lucky to have seen his work, especially the photo of Main Street in Saratoga, which made me realize in the late 1960s, when I first saw Evans’s work in a book, that the world did not look like that anymore and the world I was living in would one day vanish. Hence my street photos from the late 1970s, 1980s and later still, an ongoing project.
I hope you find something to like.