Title: American Carnival
Published by: Schiffer Books
Release Date: May 28, 2019
When I was about 10 years old, I read a book called Toby Tyler by Otis James. It was about a little kid who runs away and joins the circus. It got into my head and has stayed there all of my life. There is something about carnival lights, the smells, the sounds, the energy…. if you’ve ever had this childhood adventure, the indescribable mix of wonder, amazement, and probably a little fear, I think you will love this book.
American Carnival was mostly shot over 8 years. Three photos in the book were taken in 1975 with good old Tri-X 400 ASA film. They were shot at the Hoxie Brother’s Circus which was touring Southern Ohio where I was studying photography at Ohio University. The rest of the images were made somewhere between 2010 and 2018. Why the gap? I didn’t think I could do carnivals right until I learned about panoramic photography.
As a photographer, I was trained in the art of seeing things through the confined dimensions of a 35mm piece of film, approximately 3:2, slightly wider than tall. As all photographers have done, I have worked within these boundaries using wide angle lenses to capture more of the scene than would otherwise be possible, but the resulting distortion of distance and perspective never felt quite right. I found myself secretly jealous of painters, who could select any size canvas on which to create art. When I found panoramic photography a few years ago, I realized I had discovered my unrestrained canvas. Panorama photographs are carefully crafted from multiple photographs that are combined together to form one large image. With panoramas I can photograph without traditional framing limitations. This is immensely satisfying for me, as I feel panoramas are best able to convey what you would have seen had you been standing there beside me when I took the picture. Now I can show you the midway!
In designing this book, I have tried to give you the feeling of being at the fair. Your eye will move back and forth as you move through the pages just as it would if you were walking down a midway. The timeline of the book goes from daylight to night. The people you meet along the way are random and no meaning should be attributed to their location.
Grab something fried or at least a handful of popcorn and let’s go to the carnival!!