Stephen Shore. U.S. 97, South of Klamath Falls, Oregon, July 21, 1973. Chromogenic print, printed 2002, 17 3/4 × 21 15/16" (45.1 × 55.7 cm). The Photography Council Fund

“Fishing, like photography, is an art that calls forth intelligence, concentration, and delicacy.”

Stephen Shore

Always moving forward, never locking into a single style, and seeing each image as a problem to solve: this approach has characterized Stephen Shore’s work for the past 50 years, regardless of his techniques, processes, or subjects. “Whenever I find myself copying myself—making pictures whose problems I’ve already solved—I give myself new issues to pursue,” he has said. 1 His work encompasses black-and-white snapshots in the 1960s, color and large-format camera photographs from the 1970s to the 1990s, print-on-demand books in the early 2000s, and, beginning in 2014, Instagram posts. His shifts between color and black and white, his use of both analog and digital technologies, and his constant variation of scale and subject have produced a visually disparate body of work in which the prevailing rule seems to be the absence of rules.

But the apparently unfathomable quality of Shore’s photographs should not obscure the fact that his work is founded on ideas that he uses to resolve the “problem” presented by each image. The first of these is his search for maximum clarity. This has been evident since the 1970s, when he began using an 8-by-10-inch large-format camera, and is now furthered by the technical advancements of digital cameras, which allow for extreme precision but are much easier to handle than traditional view cameras. Another guiding principle in the majority of Shore’s photographs is a respect for natural light. His work does not include images taken at night, and, except in his early work, he very rarely uses artificial light or a flash. But perhaps the most consistent of his methods is the discipline he exercises in taking as few shots as possible, a habit that owes a great deal to his earlier use of large, cumbersome view cameras that require expensive negative processing. He takes one shot of a given subject, and does very little editing of the image afterward.

Shore’s approach to photography is both deadpan and contemplative, and marked by a willful economy of means. He likens the process of shooting photographs to one of his favorite activities: fishing. “I’ve found through experience that whenever—or so it seems—my attention wanders or I look away then surely a fish will rise to the fly and I will be too late setting the hook. I watch the fly calmly and attentively so that when the fish strikes—I strike. Then the line tightens, the playing of the fish begins, and time stands still. Fishing, like photography, is an art that calls forth intelligence, concentration, and delicacy.” 2

Quentin Bajac, The Joel and Anne Ehrenkranz Chief Curator of Photography, 2017

  1. “Shifting Focus—The Decade Interview: Stephen Shore,”, February 4, 2011.

  2. Stephen Shore, Uncommon Places (New York: Aperture, 1982), 63.

Wikipedia entry
Stephen Shore (born October 8, 1947) is an American photographer known for his images of scenes and objects of the banal, and for his pioneering use of color in art photography. His books include Uncommon Places (1982) and American Surfaces (1999), photographs that he took on cross-country road trips in the 1970s. In 1975 Shore received a Guggenheim Fellowship. In 1971, he was the first living photographer to be exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, where he had a solo show of black and white photographs. He was selected to participate in the influential group exhibition "New Topographics: Photographs of a Man-Altered Landscape", at the International Museum of Photography at the George Eastman House (Rochester, New York), in 1975-1976. In 1976 he had a solo exhibition of color photographs at the Museum of Modern Art. In 2010 he received an Honorary Fellowship from the Royal Photographic Society.
Information from Wikipedia, made available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License
Getty record
Born 8 October 1947. Shore began his first photographic experiments in 1953 and took his first colour photographs in 1956. In 1970 Shore participated in a workshop given by Minor White. At this point he began to work in large-format colour photography. He concentrated on photographing landscape, streets and buildings. From 1977 to 1982 Shore was commissioned by the Metropolitain Museum of Art, New York, to photograph Monet's gardens at Giverny, France. American photographer.
Artist, Photographer
Stephen Shore, Stephen Eric Shore
Information from Getty’s Union List of Artist Names ® (ULAN), made available under the ODC Attribution License


197 works online



  • MoMA Highlights: 375 Works from The Museum of Modern Art Flexibound, 408 pages
  • MoMA Now: Highlights from The Museum of Modern Art—Ninetieth Anniversary Edition Hardcover, 424 pages
  • Stephen Shore Exhibition catalogue, Hardcover, 336 pages
  • The Shape of Things: Photographs from Robert B. Menschel Exhibition catalogue, Hardcover, 152 pages
  • Photography at MoMA: 1960 to Now Hardcover, 368 pages
  • Into the Sunset: Photography’s Image of the American West Exhibition catalogue, Hardcover, 168 pages



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