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Midnight on Main by Daniel Freeman

Obregon Obregon

Is from: Southold, US
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Obregon Moderator Donor Ribbon. Awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2014 Donor Ribbon awarded for his generous support to the Fundraising Campaign 2015 Awarded for his in-depth knowledge and high level of skill in several areas.  Charter Member
Fri 18-Dec-20 02:03 PM
It's been almost 11 years since I reviewed a book called "Hopper and Company" that showed the similarity between the works of the painter Edward Hopper and photographers like Robert Adams and Stephan Shore. Over the years, I've looked for photographers who amplified this theme, and now I've finally met Daniel Freeman.

Freeman is an Englishman who specializes in night photography and is in love with American culture. His photographs are almost confrontational, showing mostly buildings, but also empty gas stations and occasional vehicles in smaller towns in the United States. The images are taken late at night, after stores are closed and people are off the streets. He believes that these photographs reveal the real soul of small town America, although I sometimes viewed them more as abstract studies in color, light and shadow. A typical shot is a 90-degree angle to the front of a store from along the main street.

The feeling of these images is similar to that of Hopper in that light and shadow are almost palpable. I would not have been surprised to see an all-night diner with a few customers seen through the window in the fashion of "Nighthawks". He acknowledges the influence of Stephen Shore and indeed his images have some similarity to Shore's pictures of city main streets. The difference is that these pictures are made late at night and convey the quiet of towns while their citizens sleep. Occasionally, as I examined the structures I wondered at the gap between small town America and the large cities where the majority of the nation's population live. Structures sometimes seemed run down and even the relatively new stores seemed somehow dated. "For rent" signs in a darkened window made me wonder at the long-term economic viability of this way of life.

On the other hand, shots of intersections where traffic lights were shining in the dark without a car in sight made me realize that even when asleep these towns had a pulse.

There was a certain redundancy in the photographs. It's too bad we haven't developed shorter photo books so that specialists could show us their work without repetition. Still it is clear that such intriguing photographs can only be created by devoting a great deal of time to a single specialty.

The essay in the book is devoted to the photographer's views on the small towns photographed. I wish he had told us the names of the towns and perhaps briefly mentioned his technique.

I've been waiting for this book,

G