Sunday, April 6, 2014

At Home - Street Portraits by Bruce Wrighton in the 1980s

In the two years prior to his death at age 38 in 1988, Bruce Wrighton photographed extensively near his home, using a cumbersome 8 x 10 inch tripod camera. He would ask the most ordinary of people, from a Woolworth shopper to a security guard, to pose for up to six minutes while he got everything in his viewfinder correct. Combining a strong sense of formal design with empathy for his subjects, he produced a singular body of work that is a unique document of a slice of America.
"There are a bunch of physical things you need to do to prepare. You need to load the film, gather your equipment, load it in the car and go off, and whether you have a sense of where you’re going or not, depends on a number of factors.
I carry, as I’ve said, a large 8″ by 10″ camera. By 8″ by 10″, I mean the film size. The camera, of course, must be much larger to accomodate that. Heavy tripod. A big pack with film in it and light meters. An extra lens or two, so here I am lugging all this stuff around. If I’m working inside it tends to be very slow. The exposures are very long so if I’m working inside I’ll probably have to bring along some auxiliary lighting. This means carting around light stands, lights or strobe units. It gets to be very physically cumbersome." He told The Weekly Pennysaver in an interview in 1988.
Here is a selection of Wrighton's photographs taken from in and around Binghamton during the last two years of his life, from 1986 to 1988.

Downtown Man # 3, 1987, Binghamton, NY, 1987

Security Guard, Binghamton, NY, 1987

Woman in Pink, Carnival, Johnson City, NY, 1987

Woman with LOVE T-Shirt and Tattoo, Binghamton, NY, 1987

Man in Johnny Cash T-Shirt, Binghamton, NY, 1987

Young Man, Binghamton, NY, 1987

Man in Leather Jacket, 1987

Count at Home, Marathon, NY, 1987

Dave, Binghamton, NY, 1987

Man with Rubber bands Downtown Man # 2, Binghamton, NY, 1987

Man with Red Hat, Carnival, Johnson City, NY, 1987

Fred, Binghamton, NY, 1987

(All photographs by Bruce Wrighton; courtesy Laurence Miller Gallery)

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