Couples: Photographs by Art Shay
156 pages. 11.25x10.50x0.75 inches.
Publisher: University of Illinois Press (2003)
When Art Shay was a photographer for Life magazine, his editor, the late Ed Thompson, gave him a valuable piece of advice about page layout: If you play pictures properly on a spread, one plus one should equal three. Shay took that principle to heart, and he applies it rigorously in the photographs that make up this collection, capturing those moments of alchemy where the interaction between two people, animals, or even objects creates a spark of something greater. In the 126 photographs in Couples, Shay shows us couples in love - walking, talking, kissing, embracing, dining, arguing - as well as many other pairings, human and nonhuman, whose relationship he has skillfully crystallized in a single instant of interaction. Inanimate air vents and grain silos as well as parents and children, siblings, friends, neighbors, famous actors and athletes, unknown passersby, dogs, and livestock - these entire rub shoulders - so to speak - in the pages of Couples, sought out by Shay's keen eye and coupled forever by his impertinent camera. In a further application of his old boss's credo, Shay has arranged his pictures in couples, side by side, adding additional levels of couple-hood as connections between adjacent photos - sometimes obvious, sometimes subtle - become apparent.