Black and White photos of a mall, people, places and stars
December 31, 2017 7:38 AM   Subscribe

Stephen DiRado is a photographer who is known for large format black and white photographic portraits and landscapes. Shot mostly around Massachusetts, his website galleries include a mall in the 1980s, a poignant series taken of his dad over time, and dinner. Some photos on his site might be considered NSFW because of nakedness.

DiRado talks a bit about his background and approach in this profile.

I couldn’t click away from his site until I saw all the photos.
posted by SteveInMaine (24 comments total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Those mall pictures are great!
posted by Gorgik at 7:52 AM on December 31 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure I trust Hot Cops' motives.
posted by uncleozzy at 8:03 AM on December 31 [2 favorites]

So there was a store called California Prunes that just sold prunes?
posted by lagomorphius at 8:03 AM on December 31 [2 favorites]

Impressive work. I took a large-format film photography class in the past summer and totally fell head-over-heels in love with the process. I wonder how he didn't get in trouble for dragging a giant camera around the mall, it's not like you can be discreet when lugging around a big 4x5 on a tripod, dark-cloth and a bag full of film-holders.

Funny, I just looked DiRado up on Facebook and the one mutual friend that we have is the professor who taught that class I took last summer. I guess the average degree of separation for large-format photographers is pretty small.
posted by octothorpe at 8:08 AM on December 31 [5 favorites]

That series of him with his father is intense, I couldn't make it all the way through. I don't love these as photographic art but as very personal images from someone's life they are phenomenal.
posted by Nelson at 8:45 AM on December 31 [3 favorites]

I'm not sure I trust Hot Cops' motives.

There is...a lot going on in that photo, man.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 8:59 AM on December 31 [5 favorites]

So there was a store called California Prunes that just sold prunes?

Not a store. I think they were a general advocacy group trying to get people to eat more prunes and, in turn, help California prune farmers. There was a Rifftrax Live show that riffed on a California Prunes commercial from this period.

At any rate, I imagine the joy from a job giving out free prunes in a 1980's mall is perfectly encapsulated by that woman's expression.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 9:08 AM on December 31 [2 favorites]

The prune thing got me curious, too.

So in the 80s, production of California prunes was going up, and they stepped up marketing efforts to get them to sell.

They now call them "dried plums", but this was definitely the work of the California Dried Plum [a.k.a. Prune] marketing board:

Getting the Message Across (1970–1990)

Marketing has always been a priority for the CDPB, but in response to declining sales in the late 1970s, the Board reinstated the funding for marketing programs that it put on hold from 1975 to 1979. By resuming advertising, display contests and recipe releases to food editors, it hoped to spark an uptick in domestic and export sales.

Concerns about cholesterol and a growing interest in fiber-rich foods in the mid-1980s gave the Board’s marketing arm a shot at highlighting California Dried Plums as the high-fiber fruit through targeted advertising, sales promotion and public relations. This “High Fiber Fruit Campaign", not to mention increased handler marketing support, deserves credit for four consecutive years of domestic shipment growth.

In the mall prune photo you'll see the tagline "The High Fiber Fruit" on the pamphlets on the table.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:16 AM on December 31 [4 favorites]

The mall I grew up going to had those same pay-phone kiosks
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 9:18 AM on December 31 [1 favorite]

The mall I grew up going to had those same teenagers making out behind the pay-phone kiosks. Love that photo.
posted by Nelson at 9:24 AM on December 31

So there was a store called California Prunes that just sold prunes?

theme song - "can't turn you loose"
posted by pyramid termite at 9:27 AM on December 31

Having grown up in the 80s and going to a high school that was literally across the street from our local mall, it's so fascinating to me to see how much of the fashion and young person mindset I carry with me in memory, and how much of the technology and general advertising/marketing contrivances of actual day-to-day living I've forgotten. These pictures are wonderful, I just wish there were more!
posted by BigHeartedGuy at 9:32 AM on December 31 [4 favorites]

Kristin before and after is just about my favorite thing. I can hear the crappy, hand-lettered C60 dub of Tinderbox and smell the clove cigarettes just looking at them.
posted by mykescipark at 9:51 AM on December 31 [9 favorites]

LOL, I love the mall phone store full of desk and wall models.
posted by apparently at 9:58 AM on December 31 [1 favorite]

Hey, it was exciting in the '80s that you were finally allowed to buy your own phones after a century of renting them from Ma Bell.
posted by octothorpe at 10:12 AM on December 31 [9 favorites]

Hey, check out JFK Jr. over here!

But it's not a mall in the '80s without the new wave girl with the spiked bangs in front, nearly vertical beret on the back of her he... oh, there she is, trying hard to look aloof around Johnny Rotten on his lunch break from Jordan Marsh. (I would have had crushes on both of them when I was in high school.)
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 10:20 AM on December 31 [4 favorites]

Check out how busy the mall was on New Year's Eve. I spent a lot of my youth in the 80's at a local mall, but NYE?!
posted by hairless ape at 11:01 AM on December 31 [1 favorite]

Hey, check out JFK Jr. over here!

That dude is basically the villain from every '80s teen comedy/melodrama.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 12:50 PM on December 31 [2 favorites]

The nudes on the beaches are also worth checking out; there's a nice variety of ages/body types/general situations there. But the mall pictures are the ones where I'd love to know what at least some of those people are up to today.
posted by Halloween Jack at 1:36 PM on December 31

The mall is the Worcester Galleria which died, was reborn, died again. and was finally torn down a few years ago for urban revitalization (which was the same reason it was built in the first place).
posted by inthe80s at 1:44 PM on December 31 [1 favorite]

Flashbak had a great series today on 80s teen bedrooms when you are done hanging out at the mall. I thought about posting it, but it hit a little too close to home.
posted by mumblelard at 2:14 PM on December 31 [3 favorites]

That's my hometown, Worcester! I even recognize a few people in those pictures.
posted by KazamaSmokers at 3:13 PM on December 31 [4 favorites]

Windsor Button Shop in the mall!
posted by rmd1023 at 7:03 AM on January 1 [2 favorites]

I took a 35mm class from Stephen in the 90's. After the class he showed us a set of larger metal toned prints and the skin of the subjects was luminous. I bet this stuff looks great in person.
posted by bdc34 at 8:46 AM on January 1 [1 favorite]

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