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Robert Adams, one of America’s foremost living photographers, has spent decades considering and documenting the landscape of the American West and how it has been altered, disturbed, or destroyed by the hand of man. A professor of English before turning to photography, Adams is also a skilled writer and acute thinker on aesthetic questions. Aperture’s previous collections, Beauty in Photography and Why People Photograph, gathered together Adams’s essays on a host of subjects: writing, teaching, photography’s place in the arts, and reflections on the work of an array of photographers.
With its focus on the voice of the artist, Along Some Rivers follows in the tradition of these publications, but provides another point of entry into Robert Adams’s careful consideration of photography and beyond. A collection of conversations (some previously unpublished) with writers and curators—William McEwan, Constance Sullivan, and Thomas Weski, among others (including a group of his students)—this publication offers the artist’s thoughts on a number of his now legendary projects, including Cottonwoods and What We Bought. A discussion of his recent series chronicling the destruction of Oregon’s great forests, Turning Back, takes us to the present moment. Through these exchanges we learn which filmmakers and painters have influenced his work; why, in Adams’s view, Marcel Duchamp has not been a helpful guide for art; how he decides upon titles for his books; and what the term documentary means to him; as well as basic technical questions—which cameras he prefers, how he approaches printing his pictures. Additionally, this publication includes a selection of twenty-eight unpublished landscapes. Together these photographs and conversations provide valuable insight into how this master photographer approaches the medium with an expert level of craft, great intelligence, modesty, and above all, a distinct sense of purpose. Along Some Rivers will be a valuable addition to literature on photography.