Top Ten #9 – Stephen K. Schuster

Tuesday, December 23, 2008



One of my favorite photo books this year was a little sliver of a book sent to me by Stephen K. Schuster, a New York City based magazine photographer. Titled simply "Kelly" the book is in Schuster's words “a limited-edition photography book on a past relationship". Limited to 25 initial booklets, I have no idea if any are left, but there's a nice selection of pictures on Schuster's website.

I'm not sure whether Kelly got any veto power over the images selected, and there are a handful of fairly revealing shots, but the pictures were taken with skill and love and the book seems to be much more about coming to terms with a break-up than exploiting a failed relationship.

Photographer/loved-one pictures are always fascinating because they show the shifting ways we view those closest to us. A psychology teacher I had at college once told us that there is so much information in the human face we can at best process about 10% of the information. Thus we selectively, but subconsciously, pick out the features that fit our mood and emotions. Happy - the person looks at their most appealing. Angry, betrayed, we focus on all the same person's worst features and physical flaws.

Schuster has pretty much kept to the positive, but in the 22 pictures of Kelly interspersed with a few location shots, he has created a moving visual haiku on love and loss, and the powerful relationship between photography and memory.















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