Tom Reider












When I was a kid, my Dad gave me my first camera. It was an old Brownie Starmite. To this day, I believe he has no idea how much that gift has meant to me nor what a profound impact it has had on my life. If there is any constant that runs through the chapters of my existence on this planet, it is the love of exploring the world through the lens of a camera.
     Today, I use a Canon EOS A2E 35mm camera with a Tamron 28 to 200mm zoom lens. Since I like searching for images on the street, I find that this combination gives me the most flexibility.
     My favorite thing to do with the camera is to use it to tell stories. I like to create images that evoke the imagination of the viewer and create an emotional response. I want them to finish the story the photograph begins and somehow relate it to their own lives.
     Because I like to tell stories, I am most attracted to photo-journalism and street photography. I roam the streets and generally follow wherever my eye or the "Great Spirit" leads me. I also look for patterns to appear in the images I collect.  One day I noticed the mannequins showing up in many of my photographs and so I began to consciously pursue them.
     I suppose part of my attraction to the mannequins is because I find them non-threatening. I dislike taking portraits of other people. I feel self-conscious and I'm sure I make them feel self-conscious. I prefer candid shots, another reason why I like the streets. My aim is not to flatter people but to capture their inner spirit, which I feel I can best do if they don't know I am looking.
     Like Pinnochio, the mannequins I was attracted to appeared to have this inner spirit even though they were not alive in the way we generally define life. I believe the images on the pages that follow capture the living essence which these mannequins seem to possess.
     Through the use of selective focus, exposure, and compositional devices, I used the camera to interpret the stories these mannequins had to tell. At the time I produced these images I did not have a polarizing filter so like Eugene Atget I was forced to use the reflections in the glass as part of the composition. In all cases these reflections added to the story in surprising ways.
     If I had another lifetime to live I would be a window witch. A skilled window dresser knows how to use mannequins and props to tell a good story. I am indeed grateful to those window witches who supplied the raw material for these images.
     Although I love black-and-white photography, I prefer to work with color. I find it more challenging. It is very difficult to produce a color image where the color itself becomes subordinate to the subject. I also like to work with slide film because the color is more saturated than in negative film. All of these images were printed on Ilfochrome material, once again, because the saturation of color with this material is so exquisite and also because it is many times more durable than regular color photographic paper.
     To attempt to select one or two photographers whose work has influenced me is a difficult task. I am influenced by every photographer whose work I have seen. But if I had to pick one or two of the more well known photographers, I would say I feel most akin to Duane Michals who uses the narrative structure in his images to describe deeply personal psychological struggles, and to Jerry Uelsmann whose use of subconscious symbolism in his photo-montages evokes dream-like states in its viewers.
     I am grateful for the opportunity to show these images and I hope you enjoy them. If you have any questions or would like more information on any of the mannequin images, please feel free to contact me through the link below.
                      — Tom Reider


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