I saw some familiar Harry Callahan prints today. They were at Jackson Fine Art, a bright and pleasing photography gallery outside Atlanta. The prints looked twice as good as they did at the Callahan exhibit in Tucson last year. They looked so good, they seemed entirely new, actually.
Callahan is more well-known for nudes of his wife, large-format still lifes, and the family pictures he took of his wife and daughter. He was a darkroom specialist who had fun with double exposures. My appreciation for his work has grown slowly; last year I came across some street photography he did here in Atlanta. There was a time when this city actually had pedestrians! (He lived and taught here for a spell toward the end of his career.)
The show was called “Women Lost in Thought”. The pictures were all made in Chicago in 1950. Not to be too technical, but they have the look of a long lens to them – they’re not Winograndian in their closeness or confrontation. Callahan was clearly standing back and picking these off from a comfortable distance.
Better still are a few single images that aren’t included in the show, proper. One is a beautifully wide street picture of a woman and a clock, shot vertically, printed to almost four feet tall. It was yet another example of the beauty of film; how its potential is inexhaustible, especially in the tongs of the right darkroom.