From the Design Desk: Photography and Place

The American photographer Robert Adams said, “no place is boring, if you’ve had a good night’s sleep and have a pocket full of unexposed film.” Nor are the resulting photos likely to be boring given the power of photography to capture and transport the viewer.

In the photo blog Little Brown Pen, Nichole Robertson tells “stories of color in the City of Light.” Nicole’s photographs frame distinctive details of Paris, from architectural flourishes to curbside minutia to signage and sidewalk furniture, all arranged by specific color. Taken as a whole, the effect is that of enhanced realism—vibrant and uplifting even when highlighting an understated hue. There’s a romance with color and place that just demands mental reverie. It’s impossible not to picture yourself wandering through the streets of Paris hunting for these colors. Chronicle is proudly working with Nichole to publish her photographs next spring.

The online project Dear Photograph marries the power of place with the notion of lost and (re)captured time. Dear Photograph places old photographs in the present day locations of their original settings, and re-photographs them, capturing the old image inside the contemporary landscape. Seeing these echoes of the past inside the present can fill the viewer with nostalgia, but these images also have an uncanny ability to make the past seem not so impossibly distant.

Meanwhile, The Social Landscape directly explores the relationship of people and place with a collection of photos from numerous photographers. Each photograph tells its own story, but collectively the project reveals the endlessly diverse, nuanced and complex relationship that we have with our environments, be it urban, rural or in the far corners of the earth.

I also love photo projects like The Blue Hour, where I’m immediately transported to a serene London, with rustic meals quietly presented on hardy surfaces always aglow with golden natural light.

While the photographer may need that good night’s sleep and his tools to take inspiring photos of place, the viewer needs only the image to be transported. Thus the power of photography…

Suzanne LaGasa



Leave a Comment