Scattered and Sacred

Calling on Agee and Evans in the Reagan Years

Church, Tallahassee, Florida, by John Oliver Hodges.

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Scattered and Sacred

Calling on Agee and Evans in the Reagan Years

by John Oliver Hodges
Southern Cultures, Vol. 24, No. 4: Winter 2018

“There were cool buildings everywhere, too, all over, and they lit up beautifully in the light . . . The things had personality, their own special kind of dead life, so what did I do? I photographed them.”

I made these pictures with a 4×5 Horseman studio camera during the Reagan years of 1984 to about 1988, when I was fresh into pictures. View cameras have bellows and expose larger negatives than handheld cameras. The Horseman I used was designed for studio work, as opposed to other view cameras made for the field, so it was heavy and unwieldly. Its use required a kind of ritual, where to focus an image, which I saw upside down and backward on a piece of glass, I bent over with a dark cloth over my head like some nefarious personage from a medieval morality play. Once I’d arranged the composition, I’d set the f-stop and shutter speed and slide in the film holder, a contraption you loaded with two sheets of film in a darkroom prior to your outing.

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