Stephen Shore (born October 8, 1947) is an American photographer known for his images of banal scenes and objects in the United States, and for his pioneering use of color in art photography. His books include Uncommon Places
(1982) and American Surfaces
(1999), photographs that he took on cross-country road trips in the 1970s. In 1975 Shore received a Guggenheim Fellowship
. In 1971, he was the first living photographer to be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art
in New York City, where he had a solo show of black and white photographs. In 1976 he had a solo exhibition of color photographs at the Museum of Modern Art
. In 2010 he received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society.
Shore was born as sole son of Jewish parents who ran a handbag company. He was interested in photography from an early age. Self-taught, he received a Kodak Junior darkroom set for his sixth birthday from a forward-thinking uncle. He began to use a 35 mm camera three years later and made his first color photographs. At ten he received a copy of Walker Evans
's book, American Photographs
, which influenced him greatly. His career began at fourteen, when he presented his photographs to Edward Steichen
, then curator of photography at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York. Recognizing Shore's talent, Steichen bought three black and white photographs of New York City. At sixteen, Shore met Andy Warhol and began to frequent Warhol's studio, the Factory, photographing Warhol and the creative people that surrounded him. In 1971, he was the first living photographer to be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, with a show of black and white, sequential images.
Shore then embarked on a series of cross-country road trips, making "on the road"
photographs of American and Canadian landscapes. In 1972, he made the journey from Manhattan to Amarillo, Texas, which provoked his interest in color photography. Viewing the streets and towns he passed through, he conceived the idea to photograph them in color, first using 35 mm hand-held camera and then a 4×5" view camera before finally settling on the 8×10 format. The change to a large format camera is believed to have happened because of a conversation with John Szarkowski. In 1974 a National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) grant funded further work, followed in 1975 by a Guggenheim Fellowship.
Along with others, especially William Eggleston
, Shore is recognized as one of the leading photographers who established color photography as an art form. His book Uncommon Places
(1982) was influential for new color photographers of his own and later generations. Photographers who have acknowledged his influence on their work include Nan Goldin
, Andreas Gursky
, Martin Parr
, Joel Sternfeld, and Thomas Struth
Stephen Shore photographed fashion stories for Another Magazine, Elle
, Daily Telegraph and many others. Commissioned by Italian brand Bottega Veneta, he photographed socialite Lydia Hearst, filmmaker Liz Goldwyn and model Will Chalker for the brand's spring/summer 2006 advertisements. Shore has been the director of the photography department at Bard College since 1982. His American Surfaces
series, a travel diary made between 1972 and 1973 with photographs of "friends he met, meals he ate, toilets he sat on"
, was not published until 1999, then again in 2005.
In recent years, Shore has been working in Israel, the West Bank, and Ukraine.
Shore emerged in the 1970s as one of the major exponents of color photography, shooting bleak yet lyrical scenes of the North American landscape. Documenting everyday settings and objects, from hotel swimming pools and televisions to parking lots, gas stations, and deserted roads, Shore exhibited an ability to transform commonplace surroundings into compelling works of art, working with a subject matter similar to Walker Evans. Between 1973 and 1979, Shore made a series of road trips across North America, documenting the vernacular landscape through his view camera, and taking a more formal approach to photographing than in his earlier work. A number of these images later formed Shore's now-classic book, Uncommon Places
(first published by Aperture in 1982 and republished in 2004 and 2007). These images arouse recollections of experiences, but in an artful, carefully crafted and calculated manner. His images are made with a large-format camera, which gives his photographs a precise quality in both color and form that has become a signature trait of his work. Shore's use of the large-format camera and innovative color printing has made him one of the most influential photographers to emerge in the last half of the twentieth century, credited with inspiring numerous contemporary photographers.
Source: International Center of Photography