Q&A with Eliot Dudik

Photographer Eliot Dudik is joining us this Saturday at 3 PM to talk about his work, and sign copies of his book Road Ends in Water. We’re big fans of Eliot and his work, so below is a short Q&A. We hope you’ll join us on Saturday!

FLP: Favorite photo books?

Eliot Dudik: My favorite photo book is Joel Sternfeld’s Oxbow Archive, with Alec Soth’s Sleeping by the Mississippi and Stephen Shore’s Uncommon Places as close seconds.  Those are classics to me, and books I never tire of exploring. My favorite new additions to my library are Alejandro Cartagena’s Suburbia Mexicana and Jeff Rich’s Watershed: The French Broad River. I also enjoy making and examining handmade books, and for that, I find myself never too far from a Frank Hamerick book. His latest, Letter Never Sent, is just stunning. 

FLP: Photo books present your work in a different way. Why make a book for this project, and how does it enhance the work?

Eliot Dudik:Books provide an intimate connection between a reader and the photographs. Sitting in a comfortable chair, thumbing through a book of photographs, and engaging with a photograph on a wall are very different experiences. Both have their own qualities, and I wouldn’t exchange one to the exclusion of the other. The book also has a wonderful way of encapsulating an entire story. A gallery or museum may only display part of a series, where location and proximity to other photographs, might create a new context for the work. A book contains a careful sequence without distractions. Moving through a book often conjures a narrative, simply through development from one image to the next. A gallery display suggests a body of work as a whole, then as individual pieces, but not easily perceived as a progression. Gallery walls have their own magic, exhibiting a finely crafted presentation of art in the best light, literally and figuratively.

FLP: Most challenging aspect of making the book?

Eliot Dudik:Certainly, the most challenging, but also most rewarding, aspect of creating a book is the editing and sequencing processes, which entail a continuous flow of give and take as the pieces meld to form the narrative. Subtle changes to image choice and placement can have sweeping effects on the perception of the work as a whole. The finality and permanence of a book encourages planning and reworking to the point of exhaustion; eventually, changes become finer and more subtle, like precisely tuning a piano. 

FLP: Any new projects (or photo books) in the pipeline?

Eliot Dudik: I am working on completing a small edition of 17 handmade books, with images captured during the chaos of St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah this past year. I am also working on another long- term project in South Carolina. The Road Ends in Water series, currently being installed at the Riverworks Gallery in Greenville, South Carolina, will have its opening reception on May 4th.