A 1975 photography exhibition, called “New Topographics,” was “new” in that the landscapes it offered up to viewers weren’t the picturesque natural scenes people had grown accustomed to. Instead, this exhibit was, in the words of San Francisco’s MOMA, all about “unromanticized views of stark industrial landscapes, suburban sprawl, and everyday scenes not usually given a second glance.” The original show featured big name photographers including Robert Adams, Lewis Baltz, Bernd and Hilla Becher, Joe Deal, Frank Gohlke, Nicholas Nixon, John Schott, Stephen Shore, and Henry Wessel. With that show a new genre was born, a first cousin of street photography. No people are present in these images but the images are still about people, documenting the effects and results that people have on their environment.
Cynthia Gladis, a New Jersey based photographer, was our latest podcast guest and with the onset of the pandemic, she found herself outside, taking images of her home state in places that were no longer bustling with people. The result? Cynthia says, “Photographing my home state is a labor of love, and I do so with a quirky and ironic nod to the New Topographics photographers of the well-known 1975 exhibit that focused on our modern man-altered landscape.” During our conversation, she shared more about this project and a few others she’s been working on. We hope you enjoy this podcast, as well as this small selection of Cynthia’s photos.