TILT Institute for the Contemporary Image
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Thursday Night Photo Talk w/Elizabeth Bick

A Hunter

March 18, 2021

Photographing people in the street is, in my mind, a combined act of serving as an audience member in a theater and a predatorial animal seeking prey. 

The late zoologist Desmond Morris states in his book The Human Animal “… a puny primate, with no natural weapons – no venom, no sharp spines, no fangs or claws – its success story is remarkable.  The most extraordinary thing we do, as animals….is walking”.   In the first chapter of On Photography, Susan Sontag references Samuel Butler’s remark that “there is a photographer in every bush, going about like a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour.”

Undeniably, these innate behaviors are inherent to the spontaneous act of photographing strangers in public without their knowledge or permission.  This act is not malevolent, cruel, or even aggressive, but is a mode of creative survival for some, and for me, most certainly.   

I begin as an audience member, then a director through keen observation of human kinesis, light, backdrop, and costume.  I observe, marvel, target, respond.  And sometimes, I approach my captured (in camera) prey and ask if I can continue to photograph them long-term and the predator in me rescinds, and a different relationship to photographing unfolds.


Elizabeth Bick (b. Houston TX) is a photographer based in New York City, influenced by her training in classical and modern dance. One-woman exhibitions include SPRING BREAK/Art Show, the University of Texas Visual Arts Center, and an upcoming solo exhibition at the Houston Center for Photography. Group exhibitions include Fraenkel Gallery, the Norton Museum of Art, and the Ogden Museum of Art. Grants and awards include Pollock-Krasner Foundation, Contemporary Arts Museum Houston, Houston Center for Photography Fellowship (selected by Lucy Gallun), Joan Mitchell Foundation, and The Rudin Prize (nominated by Shirin Neshat). She has participated in the Summer residency at American Academy in Rome, Ingmar Bergman Estate Artist Residency, La Napoule Foundation residency, LATITUDE Chicago residency, Lower Manhattan Cultural Council workspace, and Santa Fe Art Institute visiting artist program. Her work has been critically reviewed in the New York Times, The New Yorker, Photograph Magazine, PDN, and TIME.  She has been commissioned by Public Art Fund, The Atlantic, Harper’s, and NY Times Magazine. She holds an MFA in Photography from Yale University and is a part-time faculty member at Parsons School of Design, School of Visual Arts, and Fashion Institute of Technology.

Support for Thursday Night Photo Talks is provided by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Artist fees for the Thursday Night Photo Talks have been underwritten by The Lillian F. and Jerome L. Sindler Fund for Visual Media.

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