Last semester, I made a photobook on the website Blurb, which is a great "make-your-own book" site, for Joe Johnson's Advanced Photography class, but never really shared it with anyone. I named it American Rhetoric in the tradition of many, many other photo books that share 50% of that title : Stephen Shore's American Surfaces, Lee Friedlander's America by Car, Avedon's American West, and of course Robert Frank's The Americans. I think American national identity is a very interesting topic to me because of my international background.
I feel like the book is very much about the past decade, how collective behavior changed within the political climate of the '00s, how environment communicates with individuals (whether or not we realize it), authority, nationality & patriotism, consumer culture, and the absurdity of certain locations in the Mid-West. They are not meant to be newspaper photographs backing up a textual story, but meant to be understood visually in comparison with one another in sequence. I didn't include captions so that the viewer would have to trust their instincts and trust the work, and I spent a lot of time selecting and sequencing the photographs in a particular way.
The pictures' emphasis is less on moments and more about concept. It is less about a particular situation and more about symbolism on a greater scale. I think that maybe the photographs that are most interesting to me use documentary reality to suggest higher, ephemeral ideas.
Please let me know what you think! I think the book could be considered a kind of picture essay, though it's definitely different than what photogs usually do for publications.
You can preview the book at a bigger size if you hit fullscreen in the bottom right corner.