Yamhill, Oregon (population 790) City Council, April 9, 2003 (L to R): Randy Murphy, Paula Terp, Jane Heinrich (Mayor), Kay Echauri, Jeff Breazile, (#0256/17-18) 2003, Archival pigmented inkjet on canvas with varnish, 33X66 inches

Yamhill, Oregon (population 790)
City Council, April 9, 2003.
©Paul Shambroom

When I first encountered Paul Shambroom’s photographs, it was quite by accident. I was making the rounds of some of the galleries near where I live in New York City.

As a long-time newspaper photographer, I would often be sent out to cover a meeting. These were perhaps the least inspiring group of photo assignments I can think of.

Then I encountered Paul Shambroom’s Meetings at the Julie Saul Gallery. I have to admit, I was blown away. Shambroom had transformed my most boring photographic nightmare into an amazing body of work that upended my idea that meetings are not visual.

Like most important projects, a volume of work has gone into making these extraordinary photographs possible. For four years, Shambroom attended hundreds of small-town meetings, where he photographed in a big way, using a 6×12 back on a 4×5 field camera to capture epic portraits of democracy in action.

Each one was captured in existing ambient light and scanned, and then extensive digital correction was applied. The image was then blown up larger than life onto canvas, where these painterly pictures made a huge impact on me.

These meeting photographs were inspired and inspiring. When I came away from the exhibition I reconfirmed that, in the photographic arts,
anything is possible.


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