It is no secret that Lee Friedlander is one of my favorite photographers of all time. When I was just a pup trying to understand what photography was all about, Friedlander's work was an early influence. Of course, I've never yet achieved his level of commitment or purity of vision. He has stated that his conception of the photograph is all encompassing. He said his first photo ever was of his uncle with a brand new Hudson that also included numerous other incidental subjects. His photographs since then have given as much weight to the secondary as the primary subject matter. To borrow from the words of another of my favorite photographers, William Eggleston, Friedlander's work is highly democratic.
In Friedlander's current project, he continues to utilize the Hasselblad Super Wide camera--a camera model he has been using on other projects for the past decade. The all-encompassing sweep of the wide lens fits perfectly with his methods. The tremendous depth of field, supported by fill flash, works here even better than in previous projects such as "Sticks and Stones", "The Desert Seen" and "Apples and Olives" for example. Those books were generally a chaotic tangle of elements that drew you in by challenging you to work out the puzzle. "America by Car" is more accessible.
"America by Car" is so full of treasures, I could not begin to describe them. I received this book last week and I've spent a good deal of time with it. Each time I've gone through it, I've had a smile on my face. Friedlander has come up with a wonderful project with photos over several years that includes the door, window frame, windshield and dashboard of whatever car he happened to be using at the time as an important element of the photograph. It's not just a method to frame the subject, the car is part of the main subject. As in other Friedlander photos, each element is as important as any other. Here he succeeded with a consistently high level of interesting and humorous pictures.
This is a highly recommended book, easy to approach if you're not familiar with Friedlander's work yet a very satisfying for those of us who have known and loved his pictures for many years.