BOMB: Artists in Conversation presented a conversation between Wendy and translator Esther Allen. Read the full interview here …
Esther Allen: Let’s go back to the beginning. How did your particular approach to photography develop?
Wendy Ewald: In Detroit, at the turn of the twentieth century, my grandfather H.T. Ewald was a teenager working for a shipping company on the Detroit River. He came up with the idea that one could use images as well as words to advertise their services. At that time, there was no such thing as advertising as we know it; there were handbills with words and maybe some little pictures. My grandfather’s ideas about advertising matured along with the new and booming American auto industry. He invented roadside billboards. By the 1930s his ad agency, Campbell-Ewald, was the largest in the world.
There were photographs all over our house. They were taken by professionals who worked for my grandfather. Whenever a new photo technology appeared, we got it. From the time I was born until I graduated from high school in 1969, my mother was taking photographs with a stereo camera. Taking photographs was something we liked to do but nobody was delving into what any of it might mean, apart from its sentimental value.