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 an 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: EXHIBITION HISTORY
Solo (or duo) shows:
2021 Becoming Photography, an exhibition in two venues: Expression, Saint-Hyacinthe, QC & Plein sud, Longueuil, QC (publication)
The Complete Photographer: Bibliography
2021 Chuck Samuels, Becoming Photography, publication with texts by Joan Fontcuberta & Mona Hakim, co-edited by Kerber Verlag, Berlin, Expression, Saint-Hyacinthe & Plein Sud, Longueuil, 2021
Christian Gattinoni, “Portrait de l’homme photographique dans l’histoire de ses chef-d’oeuvres,” LaCritique.org, 24 mars, n.p. 2021
Chuck Samuels, “Scabs, Runny Noses & Wardrobe Malfunctions,” Ciel variable, No. 116, January 2021, Montréal, p. 95-98.
THE COMPLETE PHOTOGRAPHER: EXHIBITION AND EDITION DETAILS
There are 21 pieces in The Complete Photographer and, with the exceptions of two covers that are slightly larger, each represents a page from the magazine and measure 28 x 17 cm (11 x 6.75 in). Besides the photograph of the leather binder cover (cleverly entitled Leather Binder Cover) that will be framed, these pages will be presented in one or more free-standing and/or wall mounted display cabinets or pinned in a row to the wall in plastic protective envelopes using about 6 meters (20 feet) of running wall space or in two rows using about 5 meters (10 feet) of running wall space. The project can be shown as a solo show in a small space or as part of group exhibition dealing with issues germane to the series.
The Complete Photographer has been prepared as an edition of 10 prints. In addition there are 3 sets of artists’ proofs (including one set of exhibition prints). A specially priced complete set of all 21 works can be acquired.