Show+: Judith Joy Ross

Judith Joy Ross, April 24–August 6, Philadelphia Museum.

“The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the only US venue for the retrospective exhibition of work by Judith Joy Ross, which opens April 24. The museum is showing some 200 of Ross’s gorgeous and unassuming portraits of ordinary people: students, soldiers, voters, members of Congress, children at a Pennsylvania park during summer vacation. Ross has focused much of her work in and around eastern Pennsylvania, where she was born and still lives, making portraits that reveal a deep, if brief, connection between photographer and subject.”

“Judith Joy Ross has, as an artist, no formula. She starts over again each time—the riskiest way to do it. She has a style, of course, but it is austere. It cannot, if she panics, be used to take the place of content.”
—American photographer Robert Adams
extended conversation with Judith Joy Ross

More about her: The American documentary photographer, Gregory Halpern, recently called her “the greatest portrait photographer to have ever worked in the medium”. Alys Tomlinson, an acclaimed young British photographer, who acknowledges her as an influence, says: “I don’t understand why she isn’t more well known. Maybe it’s because she is drawn to people that you might well pass on the street and not notice. She elevates them with her camera. Her portraits are not neutral. There is an empathy on her side. A deep connection. She makes you look closely at her subjects, and think about them.” Interestingly Ross tells me that she seldom photographs rich people and “only sometimes” poor people. “I’m looking,” she says, “for people like me.”

–from a long, and compelling article in the Guardian ( from 2022.