American Studies

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

Students and scholars can access articles for free via Project Muse.

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.