Now that cell phone cameras are a ubiquitous part of everyday life, it may come as no surprise that not everyone need be a professional photographer to publish their work. There's an engaging pull to the kinds of photographs that emerge from on-the-fly shooting: they're all about a kind of instinctual compositional impulse that connects a fleeting instant with an enduring watchfulness. Sites like Flickr have taken this kind of street-photography to a new level, making it public and international and curatorially self-governing. Still, underneath it all there's an implicit assumption that the people posting their photos are artists, or designers, or photographers, or students people who have the time not only to shoot pictures but to post them.
But somewhere in Southwest Atlanta, there's a law enforcement officer taking pictures, chronicling the everyday with photographs (many of them from the patrol car) of a world few graphic designers ever see. And it's incredible.
They're remarkable, these photographs shots of streets and run-down housing projects; of gang graffiti and street signage; still-life images of gleaming handcuffs and rows of bullets, shot like some metallicized kind of alternate life-form, an aberrant kind of techno-horticulture. The images themselves are laid out plainly on a simple grid, but even here, the relationship between the cropped indexical version and its full-frame version indicates an artist with a capable reach as well as a steadfast editorial sensibility. The images themselves are delicately composed, warmly lit, strikingly bold. Taken individually, they're visually arresting, but as a series, they take on a kind of secondary narrative daytime on the outskirts of Atlanta, where there's a kind of dormant energy, an apprehensive sense of imminent peril. It's as if the very cropping of these images makes a kind of statement: is trouble what's beyond the viewfinder? And if so, do the pictures themselves offer a kind of visceral, even spiritual respite from such menancing unknowns?
Of course, many of us shoot what we see in the world everyday signage and graffiti, shadows falling on abandoned buildings: none of it is new, exactly. But these pictures and this site were produced by a cop: and there's your tertiary narrative right there. It's an astonishing thing to see: now just think about what we're not seeing.
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