I’ve been photographing what I call “ordinary objects” for a couple years now, featuring things like mailboxes, payphones, water fountains, trash bins and the like. I just added a Mexican mailbox to my collection over the Veterans’ Day holiday. I have objects from France, Italy, Canada, the U.S. and Mexico now.
Another in my series of portraits of ordinary objects. Most of my ordinary objects portraits depict well-used, sort of unloved objects, but this is a brand-new (or at least nearly new) fire hose connector inside the Fortezza Basso complex in Florence.
I know I’m repeating hydrants in the same post, but they’re substantially different takes on the same subject.
I also find it interesting that we have Mueller hydrants in Washington DC but they look very different.
Another pay phone shot, showing the much-abused state of the poor neglected utility. I see a lot more pay phones around Toronto, but still not many people using them.
I was out doing some more street shooting in my neighborhood and found a couple more “ordinary objects” that cried out for portraits. I’ve included some of my past ones here to provide some context for the project idea.
These were shot on a mix of films – the black and white are either Kodak Tri-X or Ilford FP4+, and the color shots were taken with Kodak Ektar 100, all using my Rolleiflex 2.8E.
This is part of a series I’ve been working on – photographing ordinary objects we pass by on the street every day but take for granted. They are things we see but don’t see, and they may well vanish, like pay phones, mailboxes, and newspaper vending machines, before we realize they’re gone. Pay phones are all but replaced by the cellphone. Newspapers as a physical object may cease to exist thanks to the internet, and along with them the newspaper box. Email has just about killed the personal letter – the only thing keeping the postal services alive these days are mass marketers with their junk mail, Ebay and Amazon with package deliveries. Not everything in the series is vanishing in a literal sense like pay phones, but some of them do vanish from our perception like the fire hydrant, the lamp post, and the traffic cone. We know they’re there because we don’t trip over them when walking on the streets, but they exist at the periphery. They each have their own beauty and form, however, and within their function there are a remarkable variety of forms – the hydrant in Chalon-sur-Saone, while as recognizable as a fire hydrant as the hydrant from Washington DC, has a very different form, as does the Siamese spigot.
Just a quick one-off of a very red, vibrant fire hydrant in Chalon-sur-Saone. It fits well within my series of ordinary objects, and it has a very sculptural quality to it.
Just a simple photo of a fire hydrant. It’s possible to make portraits of things, not just people.
Taken with my Rolleiflex 2.8E, Ilford FP4+, developed in Pyrocat HD.