“Chimping” on Fire Island….

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by db_gallery, Jan 21, 2015.

  1. “Chimping” on Fire Island….
    That’s essentially what photographer Tom Bianchi was doing when he showed his subjects the Polaroids that he was making of gay life in the 70’s on a secluded strip of beach on Long Island called “Fire Island”. In showing them the instant results, he gained the trust of his fellow beach combers as it helped to put some folks at ease who had not come out yet.
    Using a Polaroid SX70 also helped him to in real time, home in on the rich colors and whimsical layers often seen in his unique vision, a testament to a keen eye that developed into a great style in the work which was done from 1975 to 1983. In once instance, a friend had mailed him a photo of when he was making photos of men building a sand castle on the beach. He was portrayed lying on his back to get a low angle next a row of drying Polaroids stuck by their corner into the sand, like we would now open the photos on our computer’s desktop to view them.
    Bianchi had a show of his work in one of our local galleries recently, there were originals and prints anywhere from 10x10” to 30x30” for sale and all of them looked fantastic, he did well. Tom wanted to publish a book well before “Fire Island Pines” was released in 2013, but between the disdain of gay lifestyles in the 70’s to the ravages of AIDS that followed, it was just not the right time, especially considering many of the men portrayed in the photos passed away due to the epidemic.
    So needless to say, I was impressed with Bianchi as much as I was the depth of his work, just a really great guy who finally got to share an amazing body of work that has to be one of the strongest & deeply personal showings of photography I have had the pleasure of seeing. Glad to have my signed copy of the book.
    I made a portrait of him last week before the work went up on the walls, enjoy!
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  2. Thanks, Daniel. I was not familiar with Tom Bianchi. Although his work probably still won't appeal to some people, it's as if Bianchi captured a lost world and time before the storm of AIDS hit. Very cool that you got a signed copy of his book.
     
  3. Yeah, I figure there will varying degrees of comfort given the topic. I personally have no problem with it (straight) and have photographed gay and lesbian events in my town for years. The thing that struck me the most about this work was just how strong the overall theme looked in terms of visual narrative...it's pretty powerful and yes, it is like looking back in time in a way previously unseen.
     
  4. Thanks, Daniel. Great to see these. Captures something very important about a particular time and goes beyond the time to something much more universal as well. Kind of a celebration of life in a meaningful and personal way. Great color palette and an insider view into something most people have only heard about, if that. Funny how history changes what a photo can mean. Knowing now what was to follow this period puts these photos in a whole new light that couldn't have been seen when they were first taken and shown. Like a fine wine, an important photo will often ripen with age.
     
  5. Nice portrait!
     

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