In his long career, photographer Lee Friedlander, 81, has been a prolific experimenter. He has also photographed many leading figures in art, culture, politics and sports of the last 50 years, and made intimate images of the many photographers he has known. Friedlander is working with Yale University Press to publish a six-part book series called The Human Clay, presenting a wide array of his images, many of them never published before. The first two books in the series, Portraits: Human Clay and Children: Human Clay, feature several photos that look like they were pulled from a family album—the family being Friedlander’s circle of photographer friends. They include photos of Garry Winogrand as a proud dad, John Szarkowski posing with his dog, and William Christenberry holding… wait, is that a rabbit?
While Portraits features many famous faces, Children: The Human Clay is evenly divided between the street photos Friedlander made of kids he encountered in his travels, and images of children he knew. We see Friedlander’s own son (slide 6) in the kind of baby photo that enchants everyone except perhaps the subject.
It’s been 16 years since Friedlander announced he was “retiring from everything but work.” Since then, he’s been busy producing books, exhibitions and new bodies of work. He’s actively involved in selecting images from his archive for the books in the The Human Clay series, which will roll out over the next three years, in time for his 84th birthday.
Lee Friedlander Dresses up for Fashion Week
46 Reasons to Love Photography Now: Lee Friedlander’s Productivity Inspires (For PDN subscribers; log in required).