Lenscratch, Possession, 2014 link
The New York Times, Finding the Noir Without Looking, Annie Correal, 2015 link
The pictures suggest a murder mystery, or at least a thickening plot. But the truth is far more innocent. These photographs were taken by Jason Langer, who lives in Portland, Ore., when he was visiting friends in New York City.
They feature strangers, mainly. But the man shown running down an alley in one picture was Mr. Langer’s best friend, the actor Matt Ross, who had impetuously sprinted off while the two were in Chinatown, “looking for lunch,” Mr. Langer recalled, “or luggage.”
Mr. Langer shoots using film; one of the benefits, he said, is that you don’t know in the moment what you have captured. “Weeks later, after you’ve processed the film and you’ve made contact sheets,” he said, “you see, ‘Was I touched by a miracle, or not?’ ”
Fortunately for Mr. Langer, he has often gotten lucky.
“Twenty Years,” a book published this year by Radius Books that represents the first survey of his work, includes dozens of moments of foreboding and romance. Although relatively recent, many of the pictures look like stills from old black-and-white movies.
Mr. Langer, 48, acknowledged being influenced by film noir, and by film in general, and rattled off some of the ones he couldn’t forget: “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” “Strangers on a Train, “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.”
But he said he did not purposely set up “a noirish shot,” nor, he added, was he “out looking for noir.”
“I’m just photographing in black-and-white in the city,” he said, “avoiding advertising and keeping the clothing that people wear very basic.”
“I’m more attracted to everyone looking the same because it’s the easiest way to reach toward the universal: man, woman, man in street, woman in her home,” he said. “If you want the universal, you keep it as simple as possible.”
Mr. Langer also invoked the French photographer Eugène Atget’s images of Paris, which were celebrated by the Surrealists for uncovering the symbolic in the mundane.
“I’m attracted to the main big themes in life: love, sex and death,” Mr. Langer said. “I have those ideas in my pocket all of the time and look around and see what can happen.”