As a Fullbright Fellow in 1968, Neal Slavin spent a year photographing intensely in Portugal, primarily focusing on “fatalism.” A fraction of those photos were published in a book called Portugal, published in 1971 by Lustrum Press. Slavin’s photos of collections of people were inspired, in part, by a photo of a troop of Boy Scouts discovered while researching a project about media, publicity, and public acceptance. Of particular interest was the “public posing” or presentation of oneself within a congregation of other people. A few days after seeing the Scouts preserved in a photo, Slavin photographed, in color and black and white, the Flushing Volunteer Ambulance Corps, in Queens, NY. To proceed in color, not in widespread use in the 1970s, for the information that it provided, was an immediate decision. The photos were made for a book, When Two or More Are Gathered Together, (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1976). By 1977 the photographer had spent about four years photographing groups. This project was informed by the photographer’s work as a post card photographer in the southern United States and perhaps even informed by photographing paintings and sculpture at the Guggenheim Museum. (Most of the photos in the 70s were made with a 2 1/4 Hasselblad and a few with a 4×5 view camera.) August Sander (1876-1964) was a favorite photographer. The project in a Spring ’77 synopsis:
All photos © Neal Slavin; the photographer’s website.