Tim Richmond‘s American West – depicted in Last Best Hiding Place – can be placed anywhere onto the continuum that has the myth at one end and the artist’s unique vision at the other end. It’s a place filled with characters and locations that manage to be specific and completely generic at the same time, with a rough, somewhat hurt, tenderness underneath. I can’t help but think that the photographer is very much aware of what he is taking pictures of, given there appears to be a balancing act at play: Every stereotype is depicted, to be subverted right away or elsewhere. There are cowboys, sure, but they have baby faces underneath their stubble.
Richmond’s West ends up throwing stereotypes and preconceived ideas back at us, reminding us that what we’d like to think of as real is really of our own choosing. What we find is what we’re looking for. Here, photography comes full circle, because it is always at least that: A quest for that, which we already know. And as long as we’re not deluding ourselves into thinking there’s more, we’re in good shape.
I’ve written many times that photography really only excels when it’s being done with its own limitations in mind. These limitations arise from the technical nature of the medium in more ways than one. The properties of the camera have as much to do with it as the fact that a photographer is pointing the camera into some direction, at something in the world.
A long time ago, photographers were able to point their cameras at the world, a world not weighed down by preconceived ideas and earlier photographs. Now, when you point your camera at the world, you’re really pointing it more at all those images in our minds than at the world itself.
The secret then is to make this work, to produce photographs that can still stand on their own, while acknowledging all the ones that came before them. Tim Richmond‘sLast Best Hiding Place does just that, and it does it well.
All photographs © and kindly provided by Tim Richmond