Photographs by Joel Sternfeld. Essay by Jessica May.
Steidl, 2011. 320 pp., 140 color illustrations, 11½x9½".
Now in its second edition
This is the first book of Sternfeld’s largely unseen early colour photographs. In 1969 Sternfeld began working with a
35 mm camera and Kodachrome film, and First Pictures contains works from this time until 1980. Here Sternfeld
develops traits that appear in his mature work: irony, a politicised view of America, concern for the social condition.
But there are also pictures that bear little relation to his later work: colour arrangements that parallel those of Eggleston,
as well as street photography which Sternfeld ceased making in 1976. The photographs in First Pictures were made
at a time when colour photography was struggling to assert itself against the authoritative black and white tradition,
making this book a revelation both in Sternfeld’s oeuvre and in the history of contemporary photography.
Read Antone Dolezal's photo-eye Blog post on First Pictures here.