Phil Underdown has won the first Hey, Hot Shot! Curator’s Choice Award, chosen by panelist and guest curator Darius Himes.
The winning project, The Trappers Lament, takes place on the photographer’s property in the Adirondack park in upstate New York. The images attempt to suss out the confusion and guilt that accompanies those moments when our love of nature can lead to its demise. “I try to live my life with respect and concern for the future of our planet. I recycle, I drive a Prius, I give money to environmental organizations… and I kill Beavers. This is the landscape of that confusion, the trapper’s lament.”
Using the visual language of a Shore or Struth, Underdown presents the viewer with a record of his tramping through the gentle woods of upstate New York with his view camera and film holders by his side. Dense undergrowth, meandering creeks and a carpet of browned and decaying autumn leaves are stoically pictured in exquisite detail, the trademark of a large format camera. I can almost picture him in his wellies and khaki pants, red-checked flannel shirt loosely tucked in and a spot meter draped around his lightly bearded neck. But there is murder and betrayal lurking in the bucolic settings of Mr. Underdown’s photographs. All is not what it seems…
…His images, quiet and formally elegant, inject a sense of foreboding and mystery that draws you deeper into the frame.
Underdown will receive a gift book bag with three titles published by Radius, including Transfigurations by Michael Lundgren, The Spirit & The Flesh by Debbie Fleming Caffery and Domestic Vacations by Julie Blackmon.
Check the Hey Hot Shot! blog for all five images, and a further discussion of Underdown’s work and the judging process.