Vernacular Photography, with Peter J. Cohen and Bill Shapiro: The B&H Photography Podcast

On today’s episode of the B&H Photography Podcast, we are pleased to welcome Peter Cohen and Bill Shapiro to discuss “vernacular” photography and the historical and cultural significance of snapshots and other images that fall outside the realms of fine-art and commercial photography.

Peter J. Cohen is recognized as one of the country’s foremost collectors of vernacular photography and portions of his collections are now included in institutions such as Metropolitan Museum of Art, MoMA, MFA Boston, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Morgan Library, and SFMoMA.

Bill Shapiro is the former Editor-in-Chief of LIFE Magazine and the founding Editor-in-Chief of LIFE.com. He is the author of several books, including Gus & Me, a children’s book he co-wrote with Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, and What We Keep, from 2018. Shapiro is also a curator and has written about photography for The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic, Esquire, and others, including an article for Texas Monthly, which contains images referred to in this episode.

With our guests we discuss the joy of collecting old photos, of discovering themes, creating romantic stories, and of the beauty of the photograph as object. We also consider the surge of interest in vernacular photography from museums and other institutions, the marketplace distinctions among these and fine-art photos, and most important, what these images can tell us about our country and cultures. Join us for this enjoyable and insightful conversation.

Guests: Peter Cohen and Bill Shapiro

Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection

Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
Photograph Courtesy of the Collection of Bill Shapiro
“A Trip to the Moon,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“A Trip to the Moon,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Bottoms Up,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Bottoms Up,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Girls at the Farm,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Girls at the Farm,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Me at the Beach,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Me at the Beach,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Roof Couple,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Roof Couple,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Sheep from the Car,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“Sheep from the Car,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“A Dangerous Woman Amongst Men,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection
“A Dangerous Woman Amongst Men,” Photograph Courtesy of the Peter J. Cohen Collection

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Shawn C Steiner

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