Recently, I was asked if I knew Gaylord Herron‘s photography from within prisons. Know the work? I didn’t know the photographer. I haven’t tracked down any of his prison stuff yet, but while I busy myself with that I recommend you watch this film.

The documentary (broken into three bite-size Youtube clips) is a fantastic intro to the life of an extremely talented news-man and photographer. The film revisits the moments of serendipity, hard work and dreamlike exploration in the lives of Dan Mayo (publisher), Bill Rabon (muse) and Herron himself.

Vagabond (1975) was met with huge critical acclaim but it simply wasn’t distributed effectively. Copies are now collectors items.

Sure, there’s anger, disillusionment in Vagabond but there is also lightness or as someone comments in the film, “There is magic.” Vagabond it is a visual poem that stands next to and up to the grittiness and bleak outlook of Larry Clark’s famous book Tulsa. The two photobook projects were contemporaneous.

What I like about the film is that there are no regrets from any of the players. Herron suggests the journey had while making the book was its main purpose. All three of them feel that the book was a product realised in a particular time and that the exploration necessarily had an end point. The story is strangely and simultaneously both wistful and pragmatic.

Herron now runs a bike shop in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

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