An exemplary study of light, community and culture in Alex Webb's monograph, weaving together the most iconic photographs from his five decades-long career
"I only know how to approach a place by walking. For what does a street photographer do but walk and watch and wait and talk, and then watch and wait some more, trying to remain confident that the unexpected, the unknown, or the secret heart of the known awaits just around the corner"
- Alex Webb
Alex Webb is best known for his complex and vibrant color photographs of serendipitous or enigmatic moments, often in places with socio-political tensions. Over the past 45 years, Webb has worked in places as varied as the U.S.-Mexico border, Haiti, Istanbul, and, most recently, a number of U.S. cities. “My work is questioning and exploratory,” he says. “I believe in photographs that convey a certain level of ambiguity, that ask questions rather than provide answers.”
In 1974, the 22-year-old Webb, a Magnum Photos nominee, began working as a professional photojournalist, going on to work for the New York Times Magazine, Geo, Life, National Geographic, among other magazines. Alex became a full member of Magnum Photos in 1979.
Working mostly in Latin America and the Caribbean, he credits those cultures with inspiring his interest in color, when he transitioned from black-and-white photography in 1979. Webb has published 16 photography books, including The Suffering of Light, a survey of 30 years of his color photographs, and Memory City (with poet and photographer Rebecca Norris Webb, his wife and creative partner), a meditation about film, time, and the city of Rochester, NY, itself, the long-time home of Kodak, in the year following the company’s bankruptcy. His most recent books include La Calle: Photographs from Mexico and the collaboration Slant Rhymes with Rebecca. In fall 2019, Aperture will publish his seventeenth book—and fifth collaboration with Rebecca—Brooklyn: The City Within.
He has received numerous awards and grants including a Hasselblad Foundation Grant in 1998, a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2007, a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in 1990, and the Leica Medal of Excellence in 2000.