In the follow-up to his critically praised monograph Sleeping by the Mississippi, Alec Soth turns his eye to another iconic body of water, Niagara Falls. But as with his photographs of the Mississippi, Soth’s pictures of Niagara are less about natural wonder than human desire. “I went to Niagara for the same reason as the honeymooners and suicide jumpers,” says Soth, “the relentless thunder of the Falls just calls for big passion.”
While the subject may be intense, these are quiet pictures. Using a large-format 8×10 camera, the photographs are rigorously composed and richly detailed. Working over the course of two years on both the American and Canadian sides of the Falls, Soth captures newlyweds and naked lovers, motel parking lots and pawn shop wedding rings. Throughout the book, Soth also includes a number of love letters from the subjects he photographed. Readers are privy to intimate confessions of teenage crushes, workplace affairs, heartbreak and suicide.
Oscar Wilde wrote of the Falls, “The sight of the stupendous waterfall must be one of the earliest, if not the keenest, disappointments in American married life.” In Soth’s NIAGARA, we see both the passion and the disappointment. His pictures are a remarkable portrayal of modern love and its aftermath.