In February, the Viewpoint’s main gallery features two photographers who seek to bring attention to parts of California that are generally overshadowed by the state’s urban culture, technology and entertainment industries, and spectacular geography. Both challenge us to look at and think about aspects of our society that we might know or care little about.
Max Whittaker: In the Shadow of the Sun
For photojournalist Max Whittaker, his project titled In the Shadow of the Sun is a rebuttal to the typical representation of California as a land of wealth and beauty.” California “isn’t just Hollywood and Silicon Valley, Yosemite and Napa,” Max asserts. “It’s also the state with the highest rate of poverty in the nation.”
“My job has led me to the places most don’t care about,” Max explains. “The homeless tent cities. The unincorporated communities that lack sewer systems, sidewalks, street lights, and even clean drinking water. The places where the people who grow our food and clean our hotel rooms live.” In the Shadow of the Sun presents “a very small peek into that California.”
Max Whittaker is a freelance photojournalist based in Sacramento. He studied history at the University of California, Davis, and became interested in photojournalism while on a climbing trip in South America. He worked at newspapers in Iowa and California before going freelance in 2004. He has covered the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, presidential campaigns, and social issues in California. He is the senior contributing photographer for Sactown magazine, and is a regular contributor to The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The San Francisco Chronicle. He is also a founding member of the Prime Collective, a seven-member photographic cooperative founded in 2011. More of Max Whittaker’s work can be seen at Prime Collective’s website, primecollective.com.
Jim Klein: Wheatland Snapshots
Inspired by Eugène Atget’s lifelong documentation of Paris, as well as by the work of later photographic documentarians such as Walker Evans, Robert Frank, and Stephen Shore, Jim Klein “tried something similar.” As his subject he chose Wheatland, a small town between Lincoln and Marysville. “I roamed the town with my camera,” he says, “in an attempt to capture its unique nature, spirit, and culture,” to “make a pictorial statement about the town and its people.”
As the title of his project suggests, in Wheatland Snapshots Jim disavows a “claim to any extraordinary character of these photographs.” Believing that “photography is particularly well-suited to help us examine our surroundings,” Jim hopes to make us “re-look at what we otherwise experience too quickly, with little thought or appreciation.” Quoting Robert Adams, he states that the goal of Wheatland Snapshots is to capture a “record of current experience and to invest that experience with meaning.”
Jim Klein began making photographs about ten years ago without any formal art education. His photographs have been exhibited widely in the Sacramento area, and have appeared in photography magazines. He has filled several volunteer roles at Viewpoint, and currently coordinates the monthly Sunday Art Review. The full range of his photography can be seen on his website, jimkleinphotography.net.