The Cameras of Stephen Shore: On Display at the MoMA NY

Stephen Shore used some very interesting cameras over his career

Photographer Stephen Shore needs no introduction to many who’ve studied the greats: he’s well known in various circles as an incredible landscape photographer, candid photographer, and for his documentary work including that of Andy Warhol. His exhibition currently on display at the MoMA NY (ends on May 28th 2018) showcases a number of these images across a span of rooms and in various sizes and formats. Towards the end of the exhibit, a room includes some of the cameras that he’s used over the years. They correspond to the exhibit and many of the descriptions as Mr. Shore chose to move from 35mm to large format and finally digital later on in his career. Part of these moves are because Mr. Shore wanted to make larger prints after some time. Then to keep up with the times he switched to digital. Stephen still believes that all photographers should start out with film though, and considering his evolution it’s quite fascinating.

One of the things very worthy of note are these series of books Stephen put together really quickly during his career. They’re prints of various things and each book has its own theme. You’ll find this in the section talking about Instant photography–though not all of these were done with Instant film. The entire exhibit shows off many different types of pieces and does it in a way where one wouldn’t necessarily think they’re all shot by the same photographer. For example, there is a section where you can see stereoscopic images. This helps to show Stephen’s evolution both mentally and artistically and solidifies the fact that he’s always open to experiment and evolve as an artist.

Stephen’s first major debut of color photography in his work was done using this Mickey Mouse camera. Like his series “All the Meat You Can Eat” this is a pretty different camera as this series from from the rest of his work. When you visit the MoMA to see it, you’ll spot just how much it stands out from all the rest and just how random it can be at times.

So that he could take images spontaneously, Shore eventually started working with a Rollei 35 camera. It’s a pretty famous camera and, specifically for Shore, he mounted a flash underneath it as he shot. This camera allowed him to have the more candid look that he wanted and had gotten with the Mickey Mouse camera. In the exhibition there is a series Shore did where he took a photo a day.

In 1973, Shore started using large format cameras. These would be his weapon of choice all the way into the 90s. Shore moved up to large format because he wanted to make larger prints. But with that, he lost his sense of spontaneity. So instead, he moved onto photographing landscapes.

This Olympus E-20 camera was used by Shore later on because he found that digital photography allowed him to be spontaneous but also allowed provided the resolution of large format cameras. Shore loved digital photography for this reason.

Recently, Stephen moved onto the iPhone and sharing images on Instagram. He uses the camera on the phone and also considers things like square format and all. His mobile images aren’t in the exhibit; though it would be rather interesting if they were.