Bruce Gilden, the fantastically unabashed and oft-misunderstood Magnum photographer, has been quoted as saying: “I’m known for taking pictures very close, and the older I get, the closer I get.”
A new book by Eamonn Doyle, simply entitled i, sees the late-blooming Irish photographer move away from his usual approach to street photography and, like Gilden, get in really close. Shot in the close quarters of the capital’s Parnell Square, i depicts the elderly, hunched over with their backs to the camera. The perspective is almost that of a mugger, but Doyle depicts his subjects quietly and respectfully, with reverence even.
Solitary figures are for the most part just walking, but also pictured rummaging through handbags, stashing away multiple packets of cigarettes or laden with the week’s food shopping. There is no single protagonist or unfolding drama – just the weight of life and tedium of people going about their everyday business.
Despite the candid moments, this is not street photography born of impulse or spontaneity – an approach that traditionally relies on casual coincidences – for no overflowing energy or hustle and bustle is apparent here. Rather, the photographs are the product of a slow, unremitting gaze that hovers above its subjects, catching them unawares and as close as possible. Faces are routinely hidden and identities concealed, and in this sense i can be considered a set of anti-portraits.
Beautifully case-bound and cloth covered, it contains 64 colour photographs, a selection of which were also recently exhibited as an outdoor installation in O’Connell Street, Dublin. With no introductory text or curator’s essay, i is a tantalisingly elusive book – but brilliantly so.
For more information or to order a copy visit eamonndoyle.com