Crime Photography

© Joel Sternfeld

The "Polk 8" got me thinking about the intersection of crime and photography. Immediately to mind came Joel Sternfeld's "On This Site" - especially the photograph of the site in central park of the "preppie murder" where Robert Chambers killed Jennifer Levin in the fall of 1986 (also when I first moved to New York.) It's essentially an image of a tree and not much else.

© Michael David Murphy

Which got me thinking about Michael David Murphy's Jasper Texas series
which is also essentially images of not much. And also the site of a horrendous crime. Yet I find Murphy's images much less tinged with sensationalism - is it because it's part of a series and Murphy (who is also a MFA-carrying poet) accompanies the images with words to tell the story and fill in our imagination? Murphy's is somehow reporting, telling us about what happened at this place while Sternfeld's seems to be about Sternfeld's vision or Sternfeld's ego taking a photograph at the site of a famous murder.

Would love to hear your thoughts.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

sally mann shot similar images, of that escaped convict that police chased onto her Virginia farm. she photographed the grass where he died. honestly, not sure the images held up without the story.

same with some images i saw the other day, from a photographer that did a whole series on places where deer slept. frame after frame of landscapes of fields, with mushed down grass. certainly needed a backup story.