David Graham grew up in a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and is an internationally recognized photographer of the American cultural landscape. It was when his sister was chosen by CBS-TV as the “Typical Teenager” for a documentary that began his fascination with American culture, a leitmotif that would influence all his artistic output to come. His excitement blossomed as his mentors – Ray K. Metzker and Emmet Gowin – exposed him to photographers who shared his interests and today he still finds himself absorbed in the culture around him and how it is constantly evolving.
In his book published by Eyeshot “In Plain Sight”, the focal theme revolves around Americans and their individual ways of defining their lives. Simply, one could say it is about American culture and the commonalities as well as differences across the country. His work is a jubilant celebration of freedom of expression, seeking out those Americans who are serious about the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Graham’s photographs are rooted in the element of juxtaposition, interpretation, and the embrace of the everyday American experience. All of these elements can also be found in the Fine Art photograph included in the Black Edition, for which we interviewed him in order to investigate his creative process and dig deeper into the factors that most attracted his attention.
When and where was the shot taken?
The Black Edition print is a photograph taken on March 12, 2021. I was driving west on Route 29 near Pulaski, Wisconsin. I felt that the photograph defined Wisconsin.
Why did you decide to capture that precise moment? What drew you to it?
I decided it when I saw the wonderful resonance between the yellow and blue race car and the yellow sign just nearby, I couldn’t help but stop to take the photograph.
What do you like the most about that photograph?
Wisconsin is the “Dairy” state and I thought it was clearly expressed on the sign with a sculpture of a black and white cow and the bold, red letters “Cheese”. The automobile represents the love for stock car racing in Wisconsin. When the car and the sign were juxtaposed by the best camera position – I screamed with excitement.
What camera and what lens did you use? What Diaphragm, shutter speed and ISO, and why?
I used a Canon 5D Mark II. My exposure was f11 @ 1/250, 100 ISO. I used the Canon for its ability to give a richness to the image. I shot at 1/250 to make sure the wind didn’t jiggle the camera and the ISO of 100 to get the best resolution possible.
Graham has been on the road for more than 30 years, and his journey of discovery of America’s vibrancy and abundance is not yet over – we can only wait to see where the next stop will be.