William Clift, Certain Places

I had a great Thanksgiving and I hope those who celebrate it had one as well. One of the things I am thankful for is to have a wonderful photographic library that contains Certain Places, by the great photographer William Clift.

I won’t waste any time and get right to the point. This slender and not overly large book containing only 22 black and white photographs is perhaps one of the finest I own. The subjects include the New Mexico landscape, Mont Saint Michel, public buildings, sculptures and a few other assorted images. A particularly memorable photograph is Swing, Tesuque, New Mexico, 1973. It’s a picture of swing made of woven rope blowing in the New Mexico breeze with what looks like storm clouds in the distance. The light is amazing the scene is breathtaking. In short, it is one of the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen. I can only imagine what it would look like in front of me!

I found an interesting interview of Clift. He states that he is not a traditionalist and uses a range of cameras including 8×10, 5×7, 4×5, medium format and 35mm. Sounds like using the right tool for the job, or perhaps he just makes great pictures with whatever camera he chooses. That wouldn’t surprise me at all! What was most interesting was his statement that he makes very few pictures.  In other words only what is meaningful to him. In a video interview he discusses the mistake of attempting to make photographs that will appeal to others. No doubt his approach to seeing and making photographs that move him contributes to a very high rate of successful images and is something we should all think about!

His philosophy and working methods shine through in this most beautiful of books and I never tire of looking at it.

Yes, only 22 photographs, but a truly remarkable book that belongs in everyone’s photography library!

2 thoughts on “William Clift, Certain Places

  1. Brian

    I do enjoy these book reviews, though often wish you could include some sample photos from the book and links to it from popular book stores for reference. It does sound like a fascinating book with only 22 black and white images.

    1. Michael Marks Post author

      Thanks Brian. This book is available new through the photographer’s website or pre-owned on ebay or at used bookstores online. It truly is a beautiful book and one worth owing! $100 new and generally around $50-60 for a nice used copy.




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