There’s both a feeling of sadness and the joy of discovery when first exposed to a photographer’s work with a posthumous book release. Much more so when the photographer is one who worked in relative obscurity. I’ve experienced this before and written about it in my reviews of collections from Vivian Maier and Leon Levinstein. The feeling of sadness is genuine, though. These previously unheralded photographers practiced their craft not for glory, but because they were compelled to. It really is a thought that is hard to comprehend in these times, where over-sharing is the norm. Granted, social media was not a factor in decades past, and the notion of making photographs for one’s own self, without self-promotion, may seem absurd to many today. But, as crazy as it may seem, some do and their reasons are not to be questioned. If anything, we just need to be thankful that a curator/editor realized that the photographs needed to be published for us to enjoy.
William Gedney (1932-1989), I have to admit, was unknown to me before I received a copy of William Gedney: Only the Lonely, 1955–1984 (University Of Texas Press, 2017). That being said, Only The Lonely provides a grand introduction to a photographer who surely deserves the recognition and appreciation that escaped him while he lived.