I’m a photographer and writer who lives in New York. In 2009, after a long stretch of elder care, I went on the board of Professional Women Photographers (PWP) as archivist. When I visited the storage facility where the records were kept, I discovered something of a time capsule. As a digital gal, I was dumbstruck by the sheer amount of paper, and by how much photography, printing, and the general way of doing business had changed since the organization’s founding in 1975.
In 2010, I began to blog for PWP, and met various photographers who had worked in New York for a number of decades. Slowly I came to understand that behind the glittering technical possibilities we now take for granted were very human stories, some of them humbling. There were people who controled their own destinies, and others who were controlled by the time into which they were born. Some adapted to new aesthetics and technologies, others clung to the ways they had always known. Some were content to be commercial photographers, others wanted artistic fame. Amid increasing technical and aesthetic options, I was fascinated by how each person made decisions and charted their own particular course.
One Of the PWP articles, Sgt. Pepper Uncovered, was named by industry giant PhotoShelter to its list of Best Photography Blog Posts of 2011. I also blogged for Arts in Bushwick, and wrote the introduction for Meryl Meisler’s two books: A Tale of Two Cities: Disco Era Bushwick and Purgatory & Paradise SASSY ’70s Suburbia & the City. Both were featured on NewYorker.com, where I was quoted twice (Disco in 2014, Sassy in 2015). The books have garnered a huge amount of international press. I also have a studio in the East Williamsbur/Bushwick area, so knowing and writing about Meryl’s work made me aware of changes in New York City as well.
But through it all, I never stopped being fascinated by the changes in photography and the stories that went with it. I attended events at the Columbia University Department of Oral History, and in 2016, began an oral history of my own. called Voices & Visions: Making Photographs in the Digital Age. If you have ideas or would like to be interviewed, please contact me at email@example.com. My aim is to cast a wide net, speaking not only to art and commercial photographers, but to students, teachers, gallerists, and various workers in the field. Many people have things to say and contribute to this story which is rich and complex. I write about this and other artistic findings here. Welcome!
– Catherine Kirkpatrick