Developing Stories: Peter Elliott recalls the spirit of '77 | Calendar | Chicago Reader

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Developing Stories: Peter Elliott recalls the spirit of '77

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The demise of Look and Life magazines in the early 1970s convinced Peter Elliott, then an aspiring photojournalist, that the documentary path trod by Henri Cartier-Bresson and Walker Evans was a dead end. Instead, he built a successful career as a commercial photographer, shooting images of food for magazines and television advertisements at his studio, Peter Elliott Productions.

Then, in the summer of 1977--"an electrifying moment in the story of White Sox baseball"--he decided to turn his camera on spectators in the stands at old Comiskey Park. Crowds were turning out in record numbers to see the Sox, who had rebounded from a last-place finish the previous season, and Elliott wanted to record the "blue-collar grittiness" traditionally associated with the city.

"I thought the fans represented what I wanted to capture," Elliott says. "The players come and go. The fans don't. These people were not preoccupied with appearances. They were more down-to-earth than most people. They had their feet to the ground."

After the South Side Hitmen finished third for the season, Elliott stashed his negatives and continued his career. Twenty-four years later he dug them up for the book Park Life: The Summer of 1977 at Comiskey Park, which he self-published earlier this year and which is being distributed by Northwestern University Press. He will sign copies of the book Saturday, June 16, at Barnes & Noble, 1130 N. State, at 2 PM. For more information call 312-280-8155.

--Michael Marsh

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