In 1979, Larry Fink premiered the origins of Social Graces(1984) at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. Beyond the content of the photographs, which examine the disparity of the American class system and its human ironies, his use of hand-held strobe enabled a striking visual hierarchy described by deep valleys of shadows and clean, mountaintop highlights. Although this method was born out of necessity to capture the dimly lit ballrooms and parties of Social Graces, it soon evolved into an aesthetic of its own; one which lends its own sense of structure to a photograph. It permits the photographer to work with an impressionist approach within the frame, choosing what to emphasize and what to dismiss.
Under Larry’s direct guidance at Bard College, the following images bid a clear homage to his visual style matched with my own interpretation of the college night life unfolding around me. Taking the lessons I had learned on Cartier-Bresson’s decisive moment and the chiaroscuroof Caravaggio, I applied my newfound understanding to a familiar and accessible environment where glass Olde English ruled supreme. This was an important period of exploration marked by an obsessive need to photograph. It was a desire to beautify the nighttime debauchery, make sense of it, and to find a deeper sense of purpose therein.