A Multimedia Presentation of

All Photographs and Text
Copyright © Sam Abell/
National Geographic

Introduction by Sam Abell

The book, The Photographic Life, ends with a chapter called, The Life Behind Things, and this is a true gallery of photographs, and is appropriate at the end. The book begins with an autobiographical section that explains my past, my influences, and the path that I took. The second part of the book is about how I took pictures, the process of working in the field. The book at this point has given the reader a lot of information, impressions and even emotion, and a lot of images that explain things.

Here for the first time, the reader is on their own, confronted with photographs that represent the highest accomplishment of my photographic life - the art that I was after. This body of work for the most part has never been published before because it isn't editorial, although it is documentary. These are photographs in which I've devoted myself to crafting individual images, not picture stories, not narratives, not photojournalism, not editorial photography. They are stand-alone images that are meant to engage and involve the viewer purely on visual terms.

This third section of the book has no text other than an introductory essay. The pictures are meant to stand on their own and they're meant to be cumulative - where one picture builds on the meaning of a previous one, and collectively they address those themes that are most important to me as a photographer. Those themes were not editorial themes, about "Ireland Today" or "The Shakers" or "The Appalachian Trail" or "The Imperial Palace of Japan." The rest of the book concerns those, but here the reader sees the themes that were most important to me. They are themes of duality - of color, and its absence; of permanence, and impermanence; of the beauty and aesthetic power of decay.

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