Craig Cutler is an award winning advertising photographer in New York City who is close to finishing a year-long series of weekly personal projects
He came down to Lead Graffiti two weeks ago to shoot photos for two days searching around our studio for interesting things to photograph.
Check out the photos.
It was great fun watching him work as he found wonderful things we walk by every day and hardly notice.
You can also go to our blog where we put up a few photos from the shoot and then you can see the results Craig came up with.
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I like the portrait but I find the rest pretty ordinary if I’m honest, it takes more than a big bellows camera to make great pictures these days. I think I’ve genuinely seen more interesting and creative shots of type on some eBay listings.
I’m an advertising photographer myself though so my expectations are probably higher than most.
The Nturpin comment pushed me to think about what it is that I really liked about the photos.
The objects themselves are pretty ordinary in a letterpress shop. Many of the images were taken simply by picking it up and putting it under the lens. But to me, Craig’s eye showed me some new ways to look at things I walk by every day and don’t notice. I don’t mean the objects themselves, but the force and history of those objects.
Two of my favorite images were the large X and the galley of lowercase Caslon. I thought shooting the X was a surprisingly bold choice. The ultimate simplicity. Not the italic ampersand, but the roman X. Clearly, anyone can say, “I could have photographed that, but I really love that he did it. When he asked for that sort I was really surprised.
The lowercase galley was at least close to what the photo revealed when he pulled it out of the rack. I can hardly imagine the number of times I’ve pushed those letters back straight. As a letterpress printer and designer, I’m constantly trying to push type straight. Aligning baselines to be FLAT. If I were type I would want to fight against that. Move up and down and that galley is just what I think type would do if us humans would get out of the way. It’s really too bad you can’t just put that galley on the press and feel the monumental effort required for that type to move up and down. It just looks out of alignment in black ink on white paper.
The other image that really struck me when he was setting it up was the stack of numbers. He played with the type for probably 30 minutes, arranging them in the normal arrangements someone would do (kind of like the ampersand image). He seemed to like the numbers. They are the largest grouping of wood type that we have. When he stacked them up I was really surprised. Instead of showing all of the characters as individuals, he showed them as a family.
Some of the images are just nice to see documented.
We’ve been talking a lot lately with a new friend to Lead Graffiti about genealogy and she mentioned she was finding some good family stories. While some of the stories are exciting and filled with intrigue, others are simple and plain.” Set them in type,” we said. Make them concrete. Make them permanent. A story is a story. That same story in a book is just plain something else
I feel the same way about these images. When I was looking at the arrangements as Craig was shooting, they were just objects: 1840s type, ampersands, metal, dust. As photographs, these objects become something more significant. They become documents.
Cool. I like them better today than I did yesterday.