Q & A with Carl Corey
Wisconsin Historical Society Press: What inspired you to photograph taverns around Wisconsin and create "Tavern League?"
Carl Corey: "Tavern League" came from the Habitat series of pictures which I am always working on. I had photographed interiors of a couple taverns for Habitat and thought it would be interesting to explore this Tavern Culture a little further, incorporating portraits of the proprietors as well as interiors.
WHS Press: How did you select the taverns to photograph? Were they taverns you had visited before or ones you had heard about?
CC: I visited every tavern beforehand and requested permission to return to photograph. Very few were referrals most were scouted the day before I requested access. I would arrive in a locale set up a base camp and work for a few days.
WHS Press: You say in the book that tavern culture is transitioning with "this cultural and electronic bombardment." What is tavern culture like now and how do you see it changing?
CC: As people become more socially lazy, the effort to go out and visit is becoming less prevalent. People are socializing while they drive to work. The taverns in the book still offer an atmosphere for camaraderie and socializing.
WHS Press: Each tavern pictured in "Tavern League" is unique. How do you go about capturing the spirit of the place?
CC: I have been making pictures full time for 40 plus years. You learn to look and listen. I photograph only what interests me with the hope that I am not so unique that others find it boring.
WHS Press: What do you hope readers take away from "Tavern League?"
CC: This is a picture book which represents a body of work. This series of pictures was made to document, albeit very subjectively, a segment of society I find interesting. It is not a guide book, reference book or homage to tavern life. My intention was to share an experience and inform. I would hope that as a document it preserves in its small way a vanishing culture.