Maggie Steber

In another interesting interview on Vantage, Why We Make Photographs, originally published on the blog of BlinkKyla Woods talks to photographer and picture editor Maggie Steber about her own work, what she looks for in the photography of others and about styles and changes in documentary photography.

It’s an interesting and at times thought-provoking article (though if I stop much to write about it I will miss my train), illustrated by images of Steber’s work, many of which are also in the “greatest hits” section of her web site.

I think it is rather more satisfying to look at her images in the the other sections of the site, particularly Portraits, Haiti, Madje Has Dementia, Native Americans and Dark Side, where many of these images are shown in their contexts. It perhaps reflects a difference in our attitudes, but I rather dislike the idea of “greatest hits”.

Its also interesting to read about the film she made, Rite of Passage, about the final years of life of her mother Madje Steber. Maggie, born in Electra,Texas in 1949 was an only child, bought up by her mother living as a single parent, having divorced when Maggie was only six months old.  In her teenage years, there relationship was often strained and Maggie left home “to seek her fortune” in New York at the age of 21. But the two were the only family each had, and in the Time Lightbox article she says “She would never let me photograph her before. When her defenses were down—and I’m sure some people will say that’s not right—I started photographing her.”  Originally begun as a purely personal project, the photographs have become a moving record of their relationship and the human condition.

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