The PhotoBook

December 4, 2008

Jonathan Smith – The Bridge Project

Filed under: Book Reviews, Photo Books — Tags: , , , — Doug Stockdale @ 3:57 am


Brooklyn Bridge, Brooklyn photographs copyright of Jonathan Smith

Jonathan Smith’s book The Bridge Projectwas chosen as the Themed Category Winner of Blurb’s Photography.Book.Now 2008 book competition. It is a beautiful book and an equally wonderful project.

Jon states that he was closely associated with Joel Meyerowitz’s World Trade Center Archive, and his use of color and composition does reflect that close association. Meyerowitzis a contemporary of Gary Winogrand, and Smith’s photographs are equally direct in his vision and composition. Likewise, Meyerowitz has stated his interest in a  photograph’s color, which I likewise find as a undercurrent to Smith’s project.

But there is also a subtle irony in Smith’s photographs, such as his cover photograph above, when you find the only text within this photograph. But to watch for what? In as Jon has to work with what he finds, the word “watch” is in close associate with “look” and “see”. delightful.

As to Smith’s project, he has taken on a huge project, both in scope and size of his subject. In fact, I liken it to trying to photograph a huge and overwhelming sculpture, where you can only photograph parts of it to provide hints of its size, texture and mass. This is a documentary photographic project about a society which has had to adapt to the sculptures, the bridges. He has also included some smaller bridges that provide a comprehensible scale to help with the associations.

NYC has had to adapt to these huge and imposing structures, they become a part of their lives, there but not always recognized as to their presence. Smith has documented in a sensitive way how the people have learned to live with these huge structures. The bridges will not move, thus the people have to adapt to their huge footprints. To co-exist, to live and thrive with the ever present shadows looming over their every day lives.

Not all of Smith’s photographs are a direct observation, as some of the photographs are haunting in their monotones or relecting the change in seasons.  There is the evidence of the very old structures, the conditions and textures that are created over time.

Nevertheless, a very interesting and complete project, one worth spending some time with.












Best regards, Douglas Stockdale



  1. Great to see more of this series and thanks for the info on the book.
    Jon has a sharp eye.

    Comment by Matt Stuart — December 5, 2008 @ 8:10 am

  2. This is study of one subject, the Bridges of NYC, but Jon’s project sees all the variations of not only place, the various neighborhoods on New York, but also their photographic potential – the variation of composition and color. Congratulations!

    Comment by Sean Corcoran — December 5, 2008 @ 6:17 pm

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