American Studies

Holy Joe, Miami Beach, 1976. All photos courtesy of the author.

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American Studies

by Michael Carlebach
Southern Cultures, Vol. 17, No. 2: Photography

"Many years ago I concluded that for me truth and beauty, and perhaps wit and wisdom as well, are more likely to reside in what is ordinary and seemingly insignificant. This is, perhaps, a sideways look at America and American culture, but it is one that can produce moments that describe us all—but without makeup and bereft of a spokesperson."

In my long love affair with photography, or more precisely with photojournalism, I never developed much affection for the dramatic events that newspapers and magazines feed on for an instant, or the incendiary personalities who elbow their way into our consciousness. I have, to be sure, made plenty of pictures of news events, and of the glittery people in their midst, but I am happiest when I can sneak away and find what has been or will be forgotten or neglected or overlooked. That means at football games I pretty much ignore the celebrity quarterbacks and wide receivers, preferring instead to look at the folks on the sidelines, the cheerleaders, and the curious people who inhabit mascot outfits.