Presenting “Pretty Good” Photographs Badly

A friend gave me the latest issue of The Walrus, Canada’s answer to the deceased Saturday Night — Canada’s long-lived kick at the arts and letters canon. (It was euthanized in 2005.)

The Walrus has never been a favourite magazine of mine — I dropped my subscription years ago because it was tediously uneven and the good seldom outweighed the bad. Anyway, my recent free copy arrived in the middle of this weekend’s latest storm of the century and I accepted it gladly.

A “visual essay” by Scott Conarroe entitled “On the Edge of North America” caught my attention only because it seemed so bland. The introductory text explained that he had travelled around the North American coast in an old Toyota to document the coastline. My first glance at the pictures suggested he had found it a depressing quest.

Ketchikan, AlaskaBefore I moved into illustrated books, I got my start at magazines that put text and photographs together so I’m always interested to watch magazine photo editors at work.

Why, I wondered, had The Walrus editors chosen Continue reading