Pamela Littky: American Fair
“I drove thousands of miles to experience and document this most ‘American’ of American traditions,visiting fairs all over the country teeming with the people who call the surrounding area home. Begun in the 19th century for primarily agricultural purposes, state and county fairs remain as popular as ever.And as these traditions endure so do the people who keep them alive.” — Pamela Littky
Los Angeles photographer Pamela Littky has a legacy of photographing communities in the West. Recently, she has expanded her story telling into regions stretching across the country, exploring the great American past time of attending county fairs, places that feature traditions of farming, fun, and family. Kehrer Verlag has just released her third monograph with the publisher, American Fair, and the result is a cinematic documentation of an almost two-century-long tradition. Worlds apart from her day job as an award-winning commercial and editorial photographer of actors and musicians, Pamela’s personal work examines the annual customs of families connected to the land, the carneys who lead a nomadic life as they travel from fair to fair, and dreams of recognition and good times.
American Fair is Pamela’s third monograph. Her first monograph, Vacancy (Kehrer Verlag, 2014) is about the communities in two small towns located at opposite sides of the Mojave Desert. Her second book, the Villa Bonita, with a foreword by Cameron Crowe (Kehrer Verlag, 2016), is a portrait of the legendary apartment complex and its residents in the heart of Hollywood. Littky’s work has been published in many noted publications, including The New York Times, Vogue, The Los Angeles Times, Slate, The Telegraph, Photo District News, Newsweek, Hyperallergic, Mother Jones, and LA Review of Books, among others.
For over 170 years, the fair has been the bedrock of American communities across the country. Generally held in the late summer or early fall on the outskirts of town, the fair was originally a meeting place for farmers to promote local agriculture. In the 20th century, as America shifted from an agrarian to an urban society, the fair expanded dramatically to include a wealth of family focused fun and entertainment, from carnival amusement rides, games, and side shows to car racing, concession stands, and musical concerts.
During the summer of 2015, American photographer Pamela Littky traveled across the U.S. to capture the sites of these important seasonal markers in America’s heartland. What she discovered is that the essence of the American fair has not changed very much over the past century. While the social and cultural fabric of the United States has evolved considerably, the fairs continue to draw millions of people yearly from different backgrounds and upbringings who seek a place near their homes where community is celebrated in all its diversity, along with elements of a culture that recalls some of the most nostalgic ideals of America. – Kehrer Verlag
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