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The Present. Paul Graham.

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The Present. Paul Graham (UK).

Photographs by Paul Graham

Published by MACK, February 2012. First Edition.

[Purchase: DalpinePhoto-eye]

The Present is Paul Graham’s contribution to street photography. It also completes Graham’s trilogy project on America (with American Night (2003) and a shimmer of possibility (2007)). 

Most of the photographs were taken in the busiest parts of Manhattan (Penn Station, China Town, Times Square) between 2009 and 2011. At the first look, the photographs might seem boring and dull. In a way The Present is about nothingness, “nothing moments of life”. The present is a period of time between the past and the future, also referred to as now. The images capture the same places, shot from the same position, with just few moments apart. While the street photography is about a perfect frozen moment, Paul Graham shifts it by creating a combinations before/after, either/or. A businessman reading a newspaper, few second later the focus is on a woman walking behind him and talking on her cellphone; a busy corner/street/crossroad and people passing by; a man smoking in front of the building, a second later a cab drives by, another second and people cross the street while the man is still smoking. Some photographs are more interesting than the other (well, exactly like street life), but all together they create an experience of a now moment on the streets of New York City.

The Present in a photobook form is creative and powerful. The cover and a book title have a beautiful reflective colours, difficult to grasp as they keep slightly changing. There is no need for text and photographs do not have captions. We know this is New York because the first picture capture the truck with the advertisement of Heineken saying “(N)ew York at the bottom, and a moment later it is gone and we see the Empire State Building. This is New York.

Numerous white pages, 13 gatefolds, and lay-out of the book create very special dynamic. Not only the photographs capture double moments but also the title of the book appears two times bringing additional information and creating a certain atmosphere. The book is gorgeous. A simple design, a lot of white space and all the tiny details (such as silk cover, colours, font, gatefold edges) create a powerful experience and reflect the rhythm of the city. 

More
Review on Photo-eye (by Colin Pantall)
LPV Magazine (on Paul Graham’s exhibiiton in NYC)
DLK Collection 
(on Paul Graham’s exhibit)
Paul Graham wins Hasselblad Award
Review by Adam Bell
 

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