Colour photography had been around since the 1860s but had flourished in the parts of photography's empire where commerce trumped art. Colour was found in advertising, fashion and glossy magazines the places where photography sinned. Worst of all colour was the natural language of the amateur snapshot. By the 1970s only serious art photographers saw the world in black and white. For those able to shake off the convention working in colour proved revelatory
"When I switched to colour completely I had to work at slower speeds, let's say 125th of a second or 250th of a second, in order to get the depth of field I had to step back. When I stepped back the context changed it was no longer about something in the centre doing it, it was about everything." (Joel Meyerowitz, photographer)
But not everything changed. Photographers still made journeys out into the world to see, in the words of Garry Winogrand, 'what the world looked like photographed'. Travelling conceptually, shooting in colour and often struggling with tripods and heavy view cameras they sought out the extraordinary in the ordinary.
"What I wanted to do was to keep a visual diary of the trip and started photographing every person I met, the beds I slept in, the toilets I used, art on walls, every meal I ate, store windows, residential buildings, commercial buildings, main streets and then anything else that came my way and that became the framework for that series. I drove in rental cars and I don't think that they had tape decks at that point so it was just 'Top 40' radio or whatever the local radio station was, religious stations, country and western stations. Sometimes, to entertain myself, I would recite Shakespeare and, after a couple of days, I entered a very different psychological state."(Stephen Shore)