An appreciation of Eugene Richards‘ work is tautological. It’s like saying “I like the Beatles.” In the foreword to the Richards’ Phaidon 55 book (beautiful series, by the way, sort of a Norton Anthology of World Literature for photography), the author talks about how every photographer has their “Eugene Richards” picture; he’s been incredibly influential and his work will no doubt stand in history as some of the greatest documentary photography produced.
That’s why I got excited when I noticed on Rachel Hulin’s blog that Richards has a new book, The Blue Room, coming out soon. It’s in color, and it might seem like a departure from his usual gritty, intimate, intensely personal photography. And while the people may be gone from a lot of the pictures, and color’s been introduced, it’s just part of the same story (oooh…used copy for $20) he’s been photographing his entire career from Dorchester Days and the Arkansas work to the recent essays on American soldiers for the Nation (which just started up again in June and September).
Some of the pictures which I imagine are part of the project have been published by National Geographic and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. Richards is no stranger to controversy, and even these pictures of abandoned buildings and the communities that once supported them have drawn the ire of at least some neighbors in North Dakota, including the state’s governor. “The guy`s got to be an idiot,” said a former mayor of Mott, ND, to a local news outlet. At least that means people are paying attention to the photos. I can’t wait to see the book.