Urban Landscape: Paul Graham ‘American Night’

Paul Graham’s book American Night was published in 2003 by Steild MACK. The book itself is a creamy white (obviously scuffed and worn from so many people handling it) with white writing that is barely visible with the title of the cover. Similarly all the writing in the book is just as difficult to read as it is only a slight different shade from the paper and shinier which makes it visible if you look at it at an angle in the light.

The layout of the book shows one image on the right hand side of the page aside from a group of images in the centre of the book which are grouped together with both pages covered, and then it returns to the previous layout.

The book contains mostly images such as the first shown which is so over exposed it is barely visible, this is how Graham chose to photograph poorer areas, most of these images contain a figure which appears to be the main point of focus whether they are clearly visible or not, there is always someone in there. Due to these photographs being so over exposed you are given a shock when after seeing a few of these images to see very contrasted, vibrant photographs such as the second image shown. This is how Graham photographed the richer areas of America, these do not contain people, but just the houses and cars parked out front. In the centre of the book shows a selection of images of people, these are taken with quite a low exposure and are very contrasted, in some of the photographs you can only make out outlines of the subject, which appears to be people living in poverty, and in some cases, blindness.

I found Paul Graham’s American Night very interesting to look at, I found the layout of the book and also the techniques used to show a visual difference between classes.

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