John Sanderson (American, b. 1983) creates photographic narratives exploring and investigating the topographically broad subject matter of the United States through landscape, portraiture, and still life imagery. With a background in the social sciences, his work is firmly rooted in a cultural geography framework. Establishing a counterpoint between the documentary and poetic, Sanderson’s photographs are an extension of Walker Evan’s lyric documentary style.
Sanderson’s longstanding interest in railroad photography developed into a survey of railroad lines which have collapsed as engines of urban economy and cultural activity across the United States. Working with 4×5 and 8×10 large-format cameras, he is inspired by the 19th century photographs of William H. Rau and Carleton Watkins, whose landscapes are often devoid of the visual momentum a train carries across a picture — reflecting instead on the railroad’s value independent of its intended use.