Alec Soth Hands His Daughter the Reins

Posted by David Ozanich — 22 Sep 2010

I recently spoke about Alec Soth, who seems to be at the forefront of up-and-coming major artists in the photography world, and his show at the Walker in Minneapolis. It seems he recently went on a trip to England with his family for the Brighton Biennial, but because he is a professional photographer and didn’t have a work visa, he wasn’t allowed to take any pictures. So says Alec Soth:

"After threatening to put us back on the plane, [the customs official] finally allowed us to stay, but said if I was caught taking photographs I could face up to two years in prison."

Doesn’t seem like a very friendly tourist policy (who doesn’t want to capture an image of of merry old England?), but nonetheless, Mr. Soth agreed. His way around the photography ban? To get his 7 year old daughter Carmen to take pictures for him.

"I liked photographing dogs best of all," says Carmen. "I preferred garbage to people, but Dad said I should photograph them. Sometimes it was hard as they were walking quite fast." In one picture, a girl with a bike tucks into a sandwich; in another, a woman in a mac walks straight at Carmen, oblivious to her. Some photographs are a little dark, some have too much flash, but they are fresh and uncontrived - and all taken from her distinctive, four-foot-tall perspective. "The hardest part was taking pictures in the rain. It rained every day," says Carmen. "And it got a bit tiring having the camera round my neck."

Ha! That crack about the rain is priceless as it is SO TRUE about Britain - it DOES rain constantly (or so it seems). Anyhow, Mr. Soth went on to say:

"Working with Carmen reminded me that the greatest photography is vernacular. Sometimes, not being professional can be an asset: look at the impact the pictures at Abu Ghraib had. They're some of the most important photojournalistic images of recent time."

The whole story, via the Guardian, is here.

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