American photographer Harry Callahan shot thousands of pictures of his wife Eleonor. He kept a ‘record' of her in endless number of ways. But why did he do it?
Eleanor, Chicago,1949. Photo via Masters of Photography
Nowadays, a lot of people shoot their feet. To be completely honest I never understood why. Thinking about it, I guess it qualifies as a self-portrait, because let’s face it, it’s not just the face which makes up a person. There are hundreds of reasons why people take self portraits. I guess one of them is the fact that the photographer is actually the subject closest at hand.
When you’re deeply in love (with someone other than yourself), the tendency is that if that other person doesn’t mind, you’ll take lots of pictures of them. This was the case with Harry Callahan. Harry Callahan shot thousands of pictures of his wife Eleonor. He ‘recorded’ her in endless number of ways: nude, clothed, on the street, on the beach, in the water, in the bedroom etc etc etc. He was, it seems, relentless.
Does this say something about him? Was he absolutely fixated with her? Was she an easy and cheap substitute for a model? Or was he simply so in love with her that he couldn’t get enough?
Harry Callahan passed away in 1999 at age 86, so I guess we’ll never know.