Camilo Jose Vergara
Camilo Jose Vergara (born 1944) is a Chilean-born, New York-based writer, photographer and documentarian. He was born in Santiago, Chile.
Vergara has been compared to Jacob Riis for his photographic documentation of American slums and decaying urban environments. Beginning in the 1980s, Vergara applied the technique of rephotography to a series of American cities, photographing the same buildings and neighborhoods from the exact vantage point at regular intervals over many years to capture changes over time. Trained as a sociologist with a specialty in urbanism, Vergara turned to his systematic documentation at a moment of extraordinary urban stress, and he chose locales where that stress seemed highest: the housing projects of Chicago; the South Bronx of New York City; Camden, New Jersey; and Detroit, Michigan, among others.
Vergara began as a humanistic New York street photographer in the early '70s, when he moved to the city.some examples of the early street work can be found in a Slate series, "The Harlem That Was" This work changed significantly in the middle 1970s, when graduate work in sociology at Columbia University increasingly sensitized him to the complexities of environmental influences on social behavior. The advent of Kodachrome 64 film in 1974 alerted Vergara to the possibilities of permanent color photographic records of changing urban landscapes and their features. He began at that time to work systematically, using techniques adapted from sociological methodologies; traveling from one subway stop to the next, he would emerge onto the street and then photograph the surrounding blocks, fanning steadily outward. By 1977, he had come upon a rough approximation of his lifelong working method, returning to the same locales over time to photograph changes in the makeup of the communities in question.
Blurbs for Vergara's "How the Other Half Worships"
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