The first 4×5 camera I bought is a lovely little folding machine that weighs barely a pound. In the mid-1970’s I went through a period of photographic wandering with that camera shooting a number of store windows at night. When I recently came across the iconic image that Walker Evans shot in Birmingham (apparently mistakenly credited to have been shot in Savannah) in 1936, I was reminded of one of my images from the dark streets of DC, both reminiscent of times when we had not been so bombarded with non-stop imagery and the craft of photography sometimes meant putting on your Sunday best and posing in a formal setting.
Evans’ picture ultimately set the bar for making a picture of pictures, an inadvertent mirror of the times. And by featuring the word ‘STUDIO’ so prominently it drives home the ephemeral nature of fashion and the need (desire) to capture images of ourselves for posterity. As an added twist, the word ‘studio’, first used to describe a sculptor or painter’s workroom around 1820, derives from the Italian word studio meaning “room for study”, which in turn was derived from the Latin word studium. And of course, adding a twist to the twist, the Latin translation of camera is “chamber” or “room”.