The concept behind Darin Mickey’s photobook is relatively straightforward, in 2001 he began following his father around, documenting his life at work and at home. This photobook has developed into a desire by the photographer to understand what his father did as a salesman and who he was. Mickey created a broader narrative by including his father at home, and those things about home that might define a person. As an investigation into identity, it was directed at his subject, his fathers and indirectly it is about his own identity.
I do not think that the book is really about how one might define the work of a salesman, as this is a complex and difficult task, but about a person who is one’s father who works to make a living for a family, his family. As a child, what one’s parents did as work is always vague and incomplete, with only a few clues as to what is actually occurring. Thus Mickey attempted to connect with and maybe better understand his father by creating this narrative.
Why this book seems so poignant to me is that I am immediately transported by Mickey’s photographs and visual fragments that allow me to construct my own narrative about my father, who has since passed. In as sense, this is as close to Roland Barthes’s Camera Lucida and the story about his mother that I have come across in some time. My family grew up in the MidWest, with a large tree in the backyard that was very similar to Mickey’s. My father’s closet was filled with business suits, his office “uniform” right up to his retirement. At home I swear my mother had acquired those same decor hand towels to hang next to the bathroom sink, even though as Barthes knew, they are not the same, which is immaterial because the memories still flood back.
As an object, this hardcover book has a print affixed to the front cover, moderate and slim in size, with each color photograph bordered by a classic white margin.
by Douglas Stockdale for The PhotoBook