PDN Photo of the Day

Trent Parke’s Ghostly Study of Australia’s Pedestrians

In Trent Parke’s grainy black and white portraits of pedestrians crossing a single intersection in Adelaide, Australia, facial features are blurred and reduced to shadowy contrasts. The series, made during the city’s evening rush hour over the course of a year, portrays the conflicting sense of familiarity and anonymity of busy streets, the experience of a physical closeness but emotional distance to those passing by. 

Titled “The Camera is God,” the series is on display at the Magnum Print Room in London through August 30, 2019. The title reflects the debatable role of higher forces in seemingly random events. “The acknowledgement of the role of happenstance in this work allows Parke to step back from claiming his role as photographer or storyteller, playing with the notions of objectivity in the medium,” explains Magnum in the press release.

The ghostly grain is not digitally manipulated, but a result of the 35mm film, camera settings and dramatic enlargement in the darkroom. After Parke set up his camera, he kept it in position as the pedestrians began to move, taking 30 frames in quick succession.

“I wanted to represent the transience of the street, where you’re there for a split second and then you’re gone,” writes Parke. “Or when you have a dream about someone you don’t know, and when you wake up and try to remember them, you can’t grasp that hard outline of a person’s face.”

“You can see [the series] as a document or you can see the whole thing as a fiction and that’s what I really love – it’s about imagination,” states Parke.

“The Camera is God”
By Trent Parke
Magnum Print Room, London
Through August 30, 2019

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