To create a narrative

It really doesn’t take too many different components to create a narrative. There are three basic elements: person, place, emotion. Sometimes I’ll supply actions or the aftermath of actions in my work.
You can do almost anything with these few fundamental components. You can tell a really complicated story, and that’s what I’m after. I’ve loaded the deck for meaning to occur.

Todd Hido


Around the suburbs

When I’m driving around the suburbs, I see them as if they were a set where dramas are unfolding all the time. I’m setting the stage for an imagined story.

Todd Hido


I keep this list of rules for art students in my office, the same list that John Cage kept in his studio. They’re by Sister Corita Kent, and the first rule is, ‘Find a place you trust and then try trusting it for a while.’ It’s okay to stay in the same place for a while and to trust the desire to do so. I’d go to the same suburbs and make pictures of houses at night with lights on. I’d see that a picture was really good and then make another one to see what happened. I’d go back again and again, making pictures in the same places. Slowly but surely the work evolved. I don’t think our human nature lets us truly repeat ourselves. Repetition is just part of the creative process.

Todd Hido

Subconcious in picture

Much of what happens in a picture is subconscious at the time I make it. I’m really seeing what’s there later, when a picture is done. Joan Didion puts it this way, ‘I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I see, and what it means. What I want and what I fear.’ I feel the same way about photography. I learn things from my work about what I’m thinking. My mind is way more sophisticated than I realize. Sometimes, I pull things out of my hat while I’m working and later I think, ‘Whoa, where did that come from?’

Todd Hido

Women in War

October 1942. Milwaukee, Wis. “Supercharger plant workers. To replace men who have been called to armed service, many young girls like 19-year-old Jewel Halliday are taking jobs never before held by women. Her job is shuttling workers between two Midwest war plants for Allis-Chalmers Manufacturing Co.”
Photo by Ann Rosener for the Office of War Information.

Revolutionary Comma

Ford diffida della routine perché «ci sono tanti esempi di libri d’esordio che restano i migliori, basta pensare a Walker Percy e a L’uomo che andava al cinema. Ecco, nel 1961 uscirono quasi contemporaneamente il romanzo di Percy, Comma 22 di Joe Heller e Revolutionary Road di Richard Yates. Tre capolavori. Avrebbero dovuto smettere allora. Anni dopo chiesero a Joe come mai non avesse più scritto un libro così bello e lui rispose tristemente “e chi altro c’è riuscito?”, una triste verità. Quando era vecchio e malato scrissi a Yates per dirgli quanto erano importanti per me i suoi libri, per ricordargli che c’era ancora chi lo leggeva. Mi rispose che viveva in Alabama attaccato a una bombola d’ossigeno, la trascinava dietro anche al supermarket. È una vera merda, mi scrisse uno dei più grandi romanzieri del Novecento».

Richard Ford intervistato da Matteo Persivale, in la Lettura #241, pag. 12