Imagine starting a photo series over 30 years ago. Then, imagine the patience it requires in finding an authentic and powerful moment. That is the abbreviated story of Richard Nagler, a man who spent days finding poignant words in isolation then waited for a lone individual to pass by. It couldn't just be any person, however, that stranger had to breathe life into that word, creating a story out of a split-second moment.
Nagler recently released his book Word on the Street
where he shares seventy of these photos. Here's the editorial review: "Some photographs took weeks to realize, capture, and record. Some took milliseconds. Sometimes years go by before Nagler spots a word suitable to become a picture after all, these are in many ways accidental photographs. The magic of his work rests in the serendipitous moment when person and word come together. Word on the Street
reveals that we are all part of an amazing artistic mosaic, even as we blithely stroll down the street."
To Nagler, his photos mean much more to him than what we can imagine. They describe his own, personal journey. As he says, "I'm always looking for the perfect image that says something about life, about where I am at this stage, what I'm thinking, what's going on. I was a young man when I started this. It's my equivalent of a diary."
When I asked Nagler what he hoped others got out of his series, here is what he told us, "That there is great drama, beauty, pathos, and poetry confronting us every time we step out into the world. I have tried to be alert to the accidental juxtapositions which provide insight into the human condition and into our physical environment.
"The WORD photographs are my attempt to freeze the river of time so that we can examine in 1/60 or 1/125 of a second visual bites that which is at the core of the human experience. The associations which I made or that the viewer can now make by viewing the images are what give the photography a certain richness.
"We live in a world of sometimes discordant visual and audible cacophony when we venture out on the street. I hope the viewer 'gets' that these photographs are my attempt to quiet the noise and put order and symmetry to the chaos. Similarly I hope that others get the joy that I experienced when all the elements in life magically align. And that I happened to be there with curiosity and a camera, at the intersection of a person and a WORD, at just the right moment in time."
Richard Nagler's website