Proper Souls / Bill Sosin

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Proper Souls

Images by Bill Sosin

“If I saw something in my viewfinder that looked familiar to me, I would do something to shake it up.”

—Garry Winogrand

P roper S ouls / Images by Bill Sosin All images Š 2012 Bill Sosin


“Now, to consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravity before going for a walk.” — Edward Weston


P roper S ouls Photographers are loners by default. Even when they are engaging a

subject, there is the mechanical remove of shutter and lens, an intermediary eye. In Bill Sosin’s recent work he continues to use the further optical veneer of his car windows, taking the technicolor voyeurism inherent in his prolific City Rain series to a more oblique, meditative place. Inverting the color of the imagery he collects from his odysseys around the city of Chicago, has lent them new meaning. As in Kirlian electrophotography — where a photographic plate subjected to an electric field generates colored haloes through barometric pressure, humidity and temperature — Sosin’s diffused everyman figures, with help from shallow focus, reveal their own energy force. Rainfall still adds its anthropomorphic drama but Sosin has become preoccupied with the abstract humanoid shapes he calls “Proper Souls,” common folk unknowingly enveloped in their thermodynamic essence. A longtime devotee of eastern medicine and philosophies, Sosin merges his belief in the energetics of natural pharmacopeia and other holistic systems to a blue collar Midwestern attitude that appreciates ordinary citizens existing in their own space, or “appropriate, concentrated moment of thought and action,” as he sees it. Suddenly a man standing stoically waiting for a bus, exudes singularity, his aura blending with or rejecting the natural forces around him, and isolated commuters transmute into majestic pillars of salt.


“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place.... I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way you see them.” — Elliott Erwitt




while back I ran across some negatives I shot from my car in the old film days. I was intrigued by them and began photographing from inside my car again. Driving around Chicago in a downpour I had glazed over momentarily at a stop light as the droplets of rain gathered on the windshield and the chromium vapor of the street lamps blurred behind them. I let the cinema window of the car become obscured with the pebbles of water and then photographed them‌


What started haphazardly became an obsession and I have now captured hundreds of these images. Generally the texture of the precipitation is kept in focus, and the shape, weight and direction of the droplets can change according to windflow and the severity of the rainfall. Activity in the city streets is set in shallow focus behind this. Neon fluorescence and radiant red light from car brake lights are common themes, but more abstract and suggestive patterns are created by silhouetted pedestrians hastening along with pendulous umbrellas; vehicles such as towtrucks or sixteen wheelers, made more ominous in the dreamscape of their out of focus state; or lonely objects in storefront windows, rendered redundant by the inclement weather. The pure refractions of light are controlled by the lens choice, focus and exposure, blurred into kaleidoscopes or minimized to retain narrative detail. I search for different colorations, shooting at various times of day when the hue of the sky can contribute to the tableau.










48 All images Š 2013 Bill Sosin







Proper Souls Š 2012-2015 Bill Sosin Volume 2, Number 1 All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form without the expressed written permission of the publisher. Designed and produced by Paper Mirror Press, Chicago. ISBN 1-56863-042-5

3 Man Alone 4 New Man 5 White City 6 Free Rain 8 Gathering Rain 9 Blue Field 11 Curious Blue 12 Reincarnation 13 Cameo 14 Tears In Stride 15 Field of Circles 16 Waiting 18 Tight Rope 19 Her Side 20-21 Spectrum 22 Bubbles 23 Halcyon 24-25 Body Heat 26 In Passing 27 Panache 28 Reindeer 29 Nimbus 30 Floater 31 Walking Tall 32 Paradise At Hand 33 Traverse 34 Power Walk 35 Domain36 Townie 37 Mid-point 38 Lady In Haste 39 Working Man 40 Savant 41 Dreamsicle 42 The Call 43 The Lonerist 44 Neutral Territory 45 Close Encounter 46 Bus Stop 47 New York Street 48 The Coat 49 On Course 50 Rain Walk 51 Inclination 52 Contact 53 Hulk 54 Aura 55 Nebula 56 Morton 57 Windward BC Body Heat

Proper Souls

Images by Bill Sosin

Paper Mirror Press

pa permi



Š 2015