Chuck Samuels writes:
“In 2019 I rediscovered a collection of The Complete Photographer, an American photography magazine from the 1940s that were in my possession—probably handed down to me by my father, a proficient amateur photographer himself—that have been in storage for the last several decades. The complete run of The Complete Photographer magazine was comprised of 55 issues but, for reasons unknown to me, I only have most of the issues between no. 13 and no. 46—a rather incomplete set.
“The magazine featured informative, practical and illustrated articles on such diverse and essential topics as cloud photography, dog photography, expeditionary photography, flower photography, horse and horse race photography, insect photography, jewelry photography, kite and balloon photography, livestock photography, medical photography, and so on. The articles and the images were produced by such acclaimed artists and photography/cinema experts as Bernice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Mathew Brady, Robert Capa, Andreas Feininger, Laura Gilpin, Lewis Hine, James Wong Howe, Lotte Jacobi, André Kertesz, Barbara Morgan, Nadar, Beaumont Newhall, Edward Weston, and many others. The Complete Photographer magazine was oriented for amateur and professional photographers and it and similar magazines almost certainly had an influence on my father (who introduced me to photography in 1967) as well as on many of the artists whose work was a source of inspiration to me as I was learning about photography in the 1960s and 70s.
“In this project, also entitled The Complete Photographer, I attempt to become a complete photographer by deliriously infiltrating several issues of The Complete Photographer magazine. In a sympathetic parody, I have created modified versions of 2 covers and 19 pages from articles addressing several aspects of the medium (contest photography, documentary photography, history of photography, humour in photography and portrait photography) and, in a state of uninhibited delirium, I have imposed myself upon most of these pages and images. With this strategy I wish to do more than amuse or entertain myself or the viewer. By deploying affectionate mockery as a kind of flood lamp, I have tried to illuminate the importance that the photography magazine had in the construction, development and enforcement of the tropes in art photography of the era – motifs of which we can still find traces in today’s photography.”
The Complete Photographer was made in the context of a Custom Residency Project at L’imprimerie centre d’artistes. The artist would like to thank L’imprimerie for its support.