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Just Loomis was born in Nevada in 1957. He worked with Helmut Newton as an assistant for many years, and his own work as a photographer shows the influence of the famous man. However, while Newton is known for his fashion and nude photography, these images by Loomis are meaningful on a personal level: they show people who are important to him, and the mood is mostly reflective or somber. Most of the images are in black and white, and the color photographs are in muted tones. They were taken in a variety of places, although most are from California. Nevada, and upstate New York. They span three decades too, so presumably Loomis chose this selection very carefully. We are not given any information about who the people are to Loomis -- for most images, we just get their first names and the location, and we are left to guess the rest. While many of the images are posed, they still have a snapshot feel to them: often the lighting is not perfect, and the subject looks ready to stop for a moment to have his or her picture taken, but no longer. That's especially true for the many pictures of children. So there's a very spontaneous feel to this collection, and this heightens the sense that we are seeing people in the middle of doing something -- there's a story here which we don't know about. An old man sits outside in a wheel chair kept warm by blanket, while two nude women stand by him, one affectionately kissing the other, while he looks out in the distance. This rather surreal image, "the roommates, pasadena, ca, 1999" cries out for more explanation, but we get none. "jean, woodstock, ny, 1995" has a short haired woman with a long suffering expression on her face sitting on the floor in front of a cast iron stove. She is nude except for an open bathrobe, and behind her is a pile of empty packing boxes. The pictures of children and young people are often the most striking. "charlotte, granada hills, ca, 1999" shows a freckled girl with huge bright eyes, her head soaking wet and dripping water, gazinginto the camera lens sympathetically. "spinning, los angeles, ca 1999" has a young shirtless blond boy standing by a pool table, focusing on a ball on the table, almost oblivious of the camera -- his limbs are delicate and his hair shines in the indoor light -- reminiscent of catching a young awkward faun in a forest clearing while its attention is elsewhere. The cover picture, "skaters, los angeles, ca 1998" shows three boys standing straight looking at the camera. The middle boy is the one most in focus, and he holds your attention: his head is shaved, and he wears a loosely fitting sleeveless white T-shirt showing his arms and chest, and he has his jeans hanging low around his crotch, yet he looks about 10 years old. He seems old before his years. His face is alert and self-controlled, with no hint of a smile. Again, one wonders what his story is. So these are captivating images, memorable and enticing, and this is a wonderful collection.
Link: Just Loomis webpage
© 2010 Christian Perring
Christian Perring, Professor of Philosophy, Dowling College, New York
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