Stephen Shore

Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places is another work that our course manual delves into. The work consists of photos taken by Shore on various road trips between 1973 and 1976.  The complete book can be seen in the vimeo link below.

What really struck me while watching this video was Shore’s use of colour. On facing pages he juxtaposes photographs with complementary colour schemes – a diner featuring orange curtains and brick red banquets complements an outdoor scene with a green car against a blue sky; analogous colour schemes feature a head and shoulders photo of a woman in a burgundy dress addressing the camera juxtaposed with a an interior shot of a space with a red carpet underneath two large containers, one featuring a red plant – possibly a hibiscus.

Its also a book of opposites – an image of a parking lot next to a river on a dull overcast day sits opposite a photo of more cars parked outside a strip mall on a bright day.   Internal spaces vie with external spaces, rural buildings face city buildings.

Most of the photos are devoid of people, but where people are featured they are mainly used to juxtapose or emphasis the use of a colour on the facing page.

What one does realise while watching the video, or if one has the luxury of having the book in one’s hands, is that this work is about the journey. Cars and roads abound throughout the work and one feels as if one is a participant in this journey with the photographer. Shore has an uncanny way of creating a body of work that at first glance seems quite ordinary and banal, but yet the more one looks the more one finds and the more one realizes just how genius this body of work really is.

Ultimately, Shore’s new book finally reveals that this extensive body of work has always essentially been a photographic autobiography-an autobiography of seeing.


Reference List

Photobook Club (2012) Stephen Shore – Uncommon Places (The Complete Works) [user-generated content online]. 29 January, 2012. 6 min 36 sec Available at: (Accessed 20 July, 2017)

Schuman, A. (2010) STEPHEN SHORE: “Uncommon Places” (2004) [online]. Available at: [Accessed 20 July, 2017]


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