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A story to tell_#4 Aaron Schuman

Few days ago I went to Micamera to assist to a book-signing event. Aaron Schuman was presenting his last piece of work named "slant".
As soon as arrived we immediately went downstairs in the cellar of the shop. Several rows of chair, a bit of humidity and a slide projector were waiting for us.
Aaron started a authentic lesson of "how to build a photography project". Indeed he told us about his childhood, growing up in a small village of Massachussets, Amherst, before moving to England where he currently lives and work.
He told us a story I want to share with you since I think it's an inspiring input on how to translate something catching your attention into a photography project.
Aaron showed us some abstracts of a local newspaper of Amherst where you can find, on the very last pages, police announcements reporting strange or dangerous event happening in the small village. Those articles are very funny and, at the same time, cold-hearted reports, aseptic chronicles where policemen are literally quoting strange events reported from Amherst citizen:

"SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY
2.48am an Ann Whalen Apartments resident awoke to find someone on her balcony looking into her bedroom. The woman later told police she thinks she may have been dreaming prior to calling 911"


Aaron decided to collect those articles. He also involved his parents, still leaving in Amherst, to send him, on a regular basis, those cuttings of newspaper.
At the beginning he was curios and fascinated about the way people are reporting facts, what's beneath the apparent stillness of a boring village. He thought how to translate those pieces of paper into a photography story. So he decided to start a deep research on photographers used to combine text with photos. He found several approach to it: from the journalistic reportage of Weegee to something more poetic such as Alec Soth is his book of 2015, Gathered Leaves.
And here it comes the first important takeout to be kept in mind: no matter what you are photographing you should always study and learn from others. In each and every photo you take you put all your books, film and music you encountered along your life.
Now back to the story I want to tell...
He then explained us the role of text: either to describe the image or a poem to juxtapose to the picture, reinforcing each other. Eventually he decided to follow the path of images where the subject is not exactly matching with the text but, on a certain extent, those images are evoking a possibility, a different view, sometimes a surreal representation of the article reported. This decision has not been take by chance or simply because it was nice to put it like this. This decision has its roots, again, in the childhood of Aaron. Indeed this small village where he grew up is the same place where Emily Dickinson born in 1830. Emily Dickinson, one of the most spokesperson of modern lyric poetry, was famous for her own style made of asymmetric rhymes, emphatic digressions, use of capital letters, a distinctive sign of her work. And here it comes the link and the decision. Rhymes of Emily are named "slant" exactly because those verses are not perfectly sounding each other but there is something dystonic.
So that's the reason why of the name of the book.
I have been very impressed on how Aaron has been able to tell us a story about his origins, his childhood, the place where he grew up through the architecture of this photo + text project.

I spent before leaving few minutes with him chatting a bit about his view of photography. He gave me his advice on how to carry on my passion (one day I could make a story around all the inscriptions I am collecting on photography books...).

Before leaving I wanna share with you a short abstract of an interview done by Aaron to Alec Soth. I found it very appropriate on the way I live photography and about the way this book has been made:

"I long for stories.
They satisfy.
Novels and movies satisfy,
but photographs often leave me
feel like something is missing
I'm trying to work on this
"



https://www.aaronschuman.com/
https://it.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Dickinson
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