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Maine, A Peopled Landscape: Salt Documentary Photography, 1978-1995
Photographs from the Salt Center for Documentary Field Studies portray a Maine strikingly different from the standard postcard views of mist-shrouded lobstering villages or rocky, sun-splashed shores. This is the Maine not of the tourist but of the native, a record of both the light and the shadow of the state's culture and society. Shot by students and faculty of the Portland-based Center, which has been teaching the art of documentary photography and oral history since 1973, this collection of more than a hundred photos creates an archive of Maine's diversity: fishermen's faces craggy as the coastline, "back-to-landers" scratching a living from a renovated farm, migrant workers harvesting apples and broccoli, a community band at a holiday parade, a Cambodian wedding in Portland. Taken together, the images and accompanying text tell a tale of survival, of traditions sorely beset by radical change, of ways of life that endure in the face of continuing challenges. Three essays complement the photographs: "Function and Form in Salt Documentary Photography" by R. Todd Hoffman, Salt's Director of Photography; "The Documentary Photograph in Maine's Past" by C. Stewart Doty, University of Maine, Orono; and "Salt, the FSA, and the Documentary Tradition" by James Curtis, University of Delaware. Salt Research Director Hugh T. French provides an introduction entitled "Maine's Changing Face."