For those who know the suburban life, idealized mental images of it are easy to conjure up. But capturing any of that with a still camera is a major challenge. That is partly what has motivated me to undertake this as an ongoing project.
http://philipchudy.com/galleries/burbs/#1 (63 images)
A brief intense, recent photo foray to Petaluma filled out a substantial part of this collection of images, shot over the last couple of months. After days of hiding from the smoke from the recent catastrophic fires, I was also fired up with a sense of the fragility of the suburban environment and Petaluma in particular, because of its proximity to the areas of maximum devastation. I was thus more interesting in getting photos and less driven to steer clear of photographic cliches
The difficulty of the ‘burbs is everything is diffused and spread out and isolation and privacy are idealized and pervasive. In photographic terms, the fundamental problem in capturing ‘suburban landscapes’ is finding enough stuff in one place to tell the story or to fill the frame.
The suburban life revels in a sense of expansiveness which one knows is enjoyed by everyone in the community. One might experience a sense of this scale and continuity by driving through suburban space but everything is landscape and on the level. It is rare that one can see anything beyond one house or isolated details in one static view.
The suburban story, I feel is best told incrementally through the medium of the photo series/collection. The iconic solo suburban image certainly does exist but the ‘burbs are a known quantity. They don’t need identifying – they just need ‘explaining’.