Richard Bram: Working Title: Significant Gestures
I still haven’t put my finger on why I like street photography so much. Maybe because it allows us to look at unfiltered human behavior or maybe it’s because of the juxtapositions of humanity and architecture. New York photographer, Richard Bram, looks at all those things, but his series, Working Title: Significant Gestures, explores the connections and interactions of how we physically navigate space and each other. The work feels contemporary and well seen, reflecting hidden cultural phenomenons allowing for a Where’s Waldo pleasure of finding much more below the surface when the work is revisited. Working Title: Significant Gestures captures isolation, anger, technology, stress, what we consume, and even American Girl Dolls in just a few images–truly capturing the human experience at this moment in time.
Born in Philadelphia in 1952, Richard grew up in Ohio, Utah and Arizona, where he finished High School, College and Graduate School earning degrees in Political Science and International Business. A series of lack-lustre jobs led him to Louisville, Kentucky, where in 1984, he decided to pursue photography full-time, building his early career in public relations, public events, performance and portrait work. After moving to London in 1997, Richard concentrated on street photography and other personal photographic projects. In 2001 he was invited to join in-public.com, the first international Street Photography collective. In 2008 he returned to the United States, currently living in New York City. Richard also lectures and leads street photography workshops, most recently in such far-flung places as Tbilisi, Tel Aviv, and Bangkok.
Richard major two-person show coming in the fall in Louisville, Kentucky, as part of the Louisville Photo Biennial: BRAM/NATION: City & Seed, opening October 6th and running through November 3, 2013 at the Galerie Hertz in Louisville.
Working Title: Significant Gestures
The street photography I’m now known for began with the out-takes of the public relations and event work of my early photographic career. I’m looking for something a bit off, unusual in the everyday, something implied that actually may not be in the frame. This could be a significant gesture, a look, or some little thing that shows emotion and human feeling. Unlike the more romantic black and white photographs I made while living in London or elsewhere, the mood here is ambivalent, ambiguous, questioning. That’s how I feel about the last five years in New York. It’s stimulating, constantly changing, and not entirely comfortable.
As I have been reviewing the work of the last few years, I’ve noticed a proliferation of windows; not in the metaphorical sense of Szarkowski’s “Mirrors and Windows,” but more literal, like those found in the back of Renaissance sacred painting. Behind the Madonna and Child surrounded by saints and donors, there’s usually a window or portal looking through to a scene depicting ordinary daily life – a view outside the ‘sacred space’ in the foreground. These are often city scenes, people walking along a road, meeting by a well, or just talking in a town square – a form of 15th-Century street picture.
A photograph of a woman on a gurney who has bumped her head attended by two medics recalls this same arrangement. The woman is surrounded by metaphorical putti, little plastic stars on the plate glass windows. In the outside world behind, people stroll by a fountain as a yellow bulldozer does its work. In another picture, a soldier hunkers sits by the foot of a red sculpture that separates him from the windows of a food truck and the quotidian world beyond.
Since 2010 I’ve been shooting almost all digital color; it’s a fierce challenge. It’s much harder; there is a huge new set of variables to deal with. Color in the wrong place can ruin a picture. If what’s happening in the front is really strong but there’s a hot pink fluorescent thing in the background, your eye will always go to that – it’s another shot that didn’t work. Some people might change the color to something else in Photoshop. I won’t. My pictures are not manipulated, set up or composited. Reality is plenty strange enough.
- – - Richard Bram, New York City, August 2013