See It Now: A Short Film About Alec Soth and How He Makes Photographs

By David Schonauer   Thursday April 9, 2020

Alec Soth says all his projects are driven by “internal need.”

In a new short film from the “Photographers in Focus” series at NOWNESS, Soth explains that his work — beginning with his breakthrough 2004 travelog project “Sleeping by the Mississippi” — comes “out of the place that I’ve been at that particular time in my life.”

“‘Sleeping by the Mississippi’ came out of this desire to wander, to break free," says Soth in the film. "My second project, ‘Niagara,’ came out of an exploration of love and long-term relationships and commitment. My third project, ‘Broken Manual,’ I always call my ‘mid-life crisis project.’ I was exploring the approach of middle age as a man.”

The new film was commissioned by Magnum Photos to coincide with a course that Soth is leading on the photo cooperative’s new learning platform, Magnum Learn. For the short,  filmmaker Joppe Rog traveled with Soth as the photographer searched for interesting landscapes and faces around his home state of Minnesota.

In the film, notes AnOther, Soth describes how failure has been instrumental throughout his career — “it’s important to allow yourself to fail,” he says – and how he grapples with being a photographer, noting that it’s hard to know whether ultimately it is ‘the experience or the picture’ that is more precious.”

We feature the film below:

“Soth’s artistry lies in his ability to make the most modest images cavort with light and texture,” notes NOWNESS, which adds that his images” invite audiences to consider topics such as illness, art, death, religion and politics” in the United States.
At top: “Nick, Los Angeles,” from Soth 2019 book I Know How Furiously Your Heart is Beating


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