Tag Archives: George Tice

Truck stops as big as cities.

We live in a big damn country.  We can lose sight of this basic and obvious fact because generally the world we move around in is pretty small.  The house we live in, the yard around the house, the neighborhood and then the wider, yet still easily managed world we see everyday.  I like to think that driving long miles, and occasionally stopping, gives me insight into the people and the country, but that can’t be true.  How much can you learn when you are just passing through?  I am a tourist. If I could I would stop at every house and store and speak to everyone at least for a minute.  As it is, I did manage to connect, albeit briefly, with a number of citizens from here to Mississippi and back. And as always I am reminded of the sheer stupendous size of America.


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The Process and Exhilaration.

I usually go out to shoot in the mornings but I had a very long (and excellent)  working Saturday so I planned to stay in today.  Of course  the sky began to get interesting as afternoon came on.  I decided, perhaps a little late, to get out and have at it.  Inspiration as motivation to do something is nonsense.  Ask any writer how much work they’d get done if they only wrote when inspired.  Photography, or any other artistic discipline, is exactly like that.  If you want the work you have to  do it, period.  A photographer makes photographs and to wait for inspiration is to do nothing.  So out I went.

Besides, I had rediscovered an area a short time ago and wanted to get back there.  A bit far for a late afternoon drive but why not? So I’m off on a blustery March Sunday having a fine time, making some exposures.  The sky was ideal, the  trees were still bare, traffic was light and suddenly I was very happy with my decision to do some work.  See how that happens?

I took New Jersey 49 back towards  home.   Up off to my right I saw the looming Salem water tower and began to look for someway to incorporate it into a photo.  I turned a corner looked to my right and there it was, laid out perfectly.  These moments happen to every photographer sooner or later.  A scene presents itself to you.  A scene so perfect you can scarcely believe it.  Of course, sometimes we are presented with a perfect scene and the resulting photographs don’t measure up.  Somehow we missed whatever it was that made us stop in the first place.  I was determined not to let that happen.  I parked and began to work the scene.

 There are very rare times when I am filled with exhilaration when I am shooting.  When  every element has been placed just for me, and if I act quickly and smartly I can have what I want.   I used every lens, walked every possible path, shot from every possible vantage point made use of every angle using every sensible exposure combination and after 30 minutes or so came to the conclusion that I had what I needed.  I made a few more stops on the way home finally parking in the driveway after dark, much later than I had intended.  All in all a perfectly worthwhile shoot. I made the time to practice my craft, and brought home some exposures that I think really hit the note.




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In the front seat on a summer night with bare feet on the dash.

Big cars, fast cars, cars with fins, cars with stripes, cars with music, muscle cars, cars with girls in the front seat on a summer night with  bare feet on the dash. Cars that take you away even if only for a little while

A car in the night gives us something.  A way out, if need be. A break from the madness.  The mystery of the night can engulf us, sweeping away the dull of the day. Time stops when the moon is full and the highway is clear.  We are free, if only for a little while.

 I made this image on a summer night not long ago, standing in the road, camera mounted on a tripod, making exposure after exposure.  I thought I had what I wanted, but I tend to over shoot to make sure.  It was after midnight, nobody around.  I had passed the Sunoco station and thought that the tower would fit and the image would speak. Brought the car around, parked and 20 minutes later drove away.

Some things we see everyday all the time.  We use them and never see them.  And then one day years later we see a photograph and gaze in awe at what had been there all along.


“See the present as past”

-Walker Evans.



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Ben’s, Route 313.


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George Tice.

George Tice is one of the great photographers.  His aesthetic is grounded in simplicity and elegance.  Working with the 8×10 view camera, Tice brought his keen eye to bear on the urban landscape of New Jersey.  His photograph Hudson River Pier, Jersey City, New Jersey 1979 is the single finest visual epitaph of The World Trade Center.  And of course, his masterpiece,  Petit’s Mobil Station, Cherry Hill November 1974 stands as one of the great photographs of the last century.  All of his work needs your attention.  Start here:   The Peter Fetterman Gallery.   And the trailer for a new documentary on Tice can be seen here.


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