Larry McNeil Photographs in Smithsonian Magazine, January 2020 Issue
Where’s Larry? Was that him at the Smithsonian?
Smithsonian Magazine Work
When I was a teenager learning photography, our mom sometimes asked me to photograph things she and her friends made, like beautiful beaded vests made for ceremonial purposes. I felt humbled to do this for them and was a little surprised that they even knew I did photography. Moms always know I guess. Years later I’m still doing the same thing for our Indigenous organizations, friends and family; photographing ceremonial objects that have deep meaning to us.
Anyway, flash forward to late 2019 when Smithsonian Magazine called and asked if I was interested in shooting a magazine spread for their January 2020 issue, a cool way to start the new year. It is in the National Treasures section and is titled “Inupiaq Snow Goggles.” And Gunalchéesh to Jeff Campagna at the Smithsonian Magazine and to the most excellent staff at the National Museum of the American Indian. And of course to the brilliant artists who made the snow goggles in both ancient and recent times.
While handling the various snow goggles, the scientific aspect of my photographic education kicked in and I found myself curious about the aperture settings on the goggles. Part of the physics of optics teaches us that when apertures get smaller, the images they project become sharper. In theory, this means that if we use goggles with a small aperture opening, the scene you see should be sharper, just like squinting your eyes makes a scene sharper, looking through these goggles should also make the scene sharper. Again, the goggles are nothing less than a brilliant solution to how to live in an Arctic environment.
Here I am holding the magazine in our new photography studio at the Boise State University Department of Art, Design and Visual Studies at the start of my 2020 Faculty Sabbatical.
Link to the Smithsonian Website for the article
All content and photographs Copyright Larry McNeil, 2020. Please get permission prior to any print reproduction.