The Boring Meeting – Upended

When I first encountered Paul Shambroom’s photographs, it was quite by accident. It was the autumn of 2002, and I was making the rounds of some of the galleries near where I live in New York City. As a longtime 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 work “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 the idea that meetings are not visual. Like most important projects, a volume of work has gone into making these extraordinary photographs possible. Between 1999 and 2003, Mr. Shambroom attended hundreds of small town meetings across the United States, where he photographed in a very big way, using a 6×12 roll back on a 4×5 field camera to capture epic portraits of democracy in action.

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Each one was captured in existing ambient light, scanned, and then extensive digital correction was applied. Then the image was 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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