Same Neighborhood. 40 years.

One thing I know about street photography is you have to really know the neighborhood to capture the essence of the place. And if you can spend 40 years at the same city shooting the street you definitely will be able to find it, also for the fact that you will gain 40 years of photography experience !

In this post a previous unknown photographer walked into Columbia College Photo Department to ask the chair to look at his portfolio:

One day in 2004, Bob Thall, chair of Chicago’s Columbia College Photo Department, was met at his office by a rather unusual visitor. Amid the usual young students was a middle-aged man with a paper shopping bag. Thall’s secretary told him that the man said he had some photos to show someone. Thall invited the man into his office where he introduced himself as Gary Stochl. He told Thall that he had been doing photography for forty years but hadn’t really shown his work to anyone. He thought Columbia College’s photo department was a good place to start.

What a start! After browsing some of the approximately 300 loose prints from Stochl’s shopping bag Thall abandoned his afternoon schedule and instead, with some of his colleagues, spent the next two hours reviewing the rest. Those black and white prints captured on downtown Chicago’s streets since the 1960s were some of the best street photographs he had ever seen. According to Stochl he had become inspired by studying the work of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Robert Frank during high school in the 1960s. He bought a Leica and took to the streets of downtown Chicago to find his own style. He had been photographing mostly in this same area continuously ever since.

This story is inspiring on so many levels. Here is an amateur photographer who pursue his passion only because he loves it, and can keep at it for 40 years. Also because this proves that you don’t need any formal education to become great in photography, only prerequisite being your passion.

You can buy Gary Stochl’s photo book from here.

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~ by Clarence on October 6, 2009.

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