Episode #2 of Continental Picture Show

Posted in narrative photography by Alec Soth on April 30, 2010

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7 Responses

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  1. Jeen said, on April 30, 2010 at 2:05 pm


    Hoax right?

  2. wrobertangell said, on April 30, 2010 at 5:46 pm

    Hi all,
    there was some pretty stormy weather here and i kept wondering how the birds outside were doing, after the storm had passed and the weather cleared i made sure to put water out for them. they fly in, take baths and have a drink, relax, and then fly off. its great.
    i remember listening to a elderly photographer on the radio who had just published a book of bird pictures. he talked about how these tiny little birds flew across the ocean seasonally. for months they fly, through hell and high water he said. he was in love with the birds.

  3. Elijah Miller said, on May 1, 2010 at 4:30 pm

    Hello Alec. I saw your piece on the times website thurs night and was very moved by it. i wrote the following reflection of it in the comments section but they must have chosen to not post it.

    thank you. elijah miller.

    grandma we’re gonna sing a song again
    was the first thing he said, when i walked in the door
    she pretended not to notice the sounds that he made
    but then when he began,
    she looked up and sang along,
    so i decided to make a picture for her.
    But i knew she wouldn’t listen
    and there was no way i knew of to figure it out –
    what would she like? what would she sing to?
    how could i think for a moment i’d know?
    So i went to a man who could snap his fingers right off
    and he told me he could give me the vision i sought.
    and when he told me to open the eyes that weren’t mine
    i pushed on a button, exposing the light.
    and in flew a bird, from a distance and blurry
    that flew into the eyes i had borrowed to see
    and i knew then what grandma would like – from me.
    so i went to miss brown, who knew where i should look
    she had set up the water, the bait, and the hook
    but as long as we sat there waiting,
    it never showed up
    and miss brown knew that they knew they were being set up
    then she jumped off her chair and she said oh my dearest
    “i know just the one you are wanting to see”
    and she pulled out some chains and she said how about these?
    and i knew what she meant. i knew what she was thinking
    but the truth was that chains were not what i was wanting
    and all i could think was of the lifespan of metal
    and how sorry i was it would out last its keeper.
    so i went to the merchant of things that are needing –
    to be seen by those people in situations like mine
    and i found just a ghost of the picture i needed
    but it was closer than what i had seen so far.
    And wouldn’t you know that these things –
    they don’t show up on paper
    except what they leave behind in your hands?
    and so i was once again stuck,
    without a picture,
    for grandma to have, and to say was her song.

    so i decided, that the only place right
    was the only place i knew of where things were done my way,
    and i headed for the freeway to carry the weight of my camera and hold up the load of my back.
    And thats where they were. The birds I was seeking,
    that’s where the pieces all landed for me.
    But for too many reasons I was not there to capture
    the light that was made for the moments like these
    And I realized then, that what I was wanting
    was not for the grandma with pieces that were missing.
    but for the space in my head
    that begs for forgiveness
    for needing to sit in, my own sense of loss
    and the place in my head that believes I can capture
    the thing that I think,
    I will want
    in the end.

  4. Alec Soth said, on May 1, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    Dear Elijah,

    I’m beyond grateful. It is one thing for someone to take the time to watch the piece and another thing for them to respond with eloquence…but this, jeez, what an honor.

    Also happy to discover you and your band. Many thanks,


    PS. The Times seems to post comments in batches. I’m sure it’ll show up in a day or two.

  5. Mikolaj said, on May 3, 2010 at 1:57 am

    Mr. Soth,

    I very much appreciate this piece. There is so much space and freedom within it.

    And I envy you.

    How are you able to be both free-flowing and persistant?

  6. jennifer said, on May 3, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Love that story!

    I once rescued a dying baby bird i found on the street in brooklyn.
    I’m not sure if it’s last hours were better spent with me or on the sidewalk?
    But i enjoyed our evening.

    Hope all is well. Glad to hear you are working with my favorite sisters! What an inspiring team you must be.


  7. Guy Batey said, on May 5, 2010 at 3:36 am

    Love this new stuff Alec – funny, lyrical and melancholic in equal measures.


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