The magic of photos, new and old
“Unhurriedly walk the
neighborhoods and downtown
streets — there’s much to see.
Look for designs in nature,
concrete, brick, peeling paint or
anything that you might walk by.
But above all take your time.”
— Richard Albright
Richard Albright’s comment is essential for any artist, particularly a photographer.
I am fascinated by old photographs. We see people, often awkwardly posing in frozen attitudes staring into a light now gone. They are locked in their time. We are looking back from our time, often knowing what became of them if the photos come from a family album. There are photographs of landscapes, as well, but I prefer looking at even unknown individuals from another century. I wonder who they were and what became of them. Photos of famous figures carry a history. Abraham Lincoln’s final photograph from 1865 haunts us still.
We need not go too far into to the past, however, to discover inspiring photographs. For the last six years, local photographer, Richard Albright, has walked the Pocatello streets every First Friday Art Walk, shooting photos of pedestrians, shoppers and local musicians. Will Peterson, owner of the Walrus and Carpenter bookstore, recalls in his introduction to Albright’s new book of Art Walk photos seeing “a gray-haired man stooped under a tall camera tripod with a Rolleiflex TLR atop it among the party goers filing past the window.”
That Rolleiflex, a favorite with street photographers, is 50 years old. Here is Albright’s comment on his personal project:
“What I did was to catch Art Walk participants a few at a time. Each picture was only 1/30th of a second out of those six years. But, when I put all the pictures together in this book it shows a six year cross-section of the Art Walk activity. Hopefully, a few books might survive far into the future.”
In fact, Richard Albright’s photos, including those selected for his book, will be donated to the Bannock Historical Museum. The photos are in black and white with an automatic vintage look, but despite the lack of color, black and white film can have a rich tone with a sharp focus and durability. In one hundred years, citizens of Pocatello will catch a glimpse of how we lived.
Richard Albright might do for Pocatello what Vivian Maier did for Chicago. Maier (Feb. 1, 1926–April 21, 2009) was an American street photographer who worked 40 years as a nanny in Chicago’s North Shore. She took thousands of photographs of nameless Chicago citizens in her free time. After a bad fall, Maier died in obscurity, but her photos and negatives discovered during a storage sale capture striking images from an era long vanished. They went viral on the internet when first displayed and have become part of American history.
Currently, Richard Albright’s $45 Art Walk book is sold out, but it is available at blurb.com/b/8940195-untitled. By First Friday on May 3, Richard Albright should have more copies for sale. You might find yourself among those past First Friday participants.
Michael Corrigan of Pocatello is a San Francisco native and a retired Idaho State University English and speech communication instructor. He studied screenwriting at the American Film Institute and has authored seven books, many about the Irish American experience.