In Miami, Florida, a few years ago, Charles H Traub was walking past the packed lot of a car dealership when he saw this outsized lemon parked in a vacant spot. “In our vernacular, as I suppose in yours, a lemon is something that’s not right.” What was no doubt a bit of Vegas-style pop art advertising seemed to Traub heavy with metaphoric potential. As he puts it mildly: “We have a lot of lemons around.”
Since Donald Trump’s inauguration in January 2017, Traub has been drawn to such incongruent images. The resulting series, Tickety-Boo (published by Damiani), is a visual stream of consciousness that he could only have shot on his phone. “Because you can respond anywhere, and everywhere. And you can do so without looking like a photographer. It frees you from, as we say in New York, schlepping a lot of equipment. People just think you’re on your phone.”
The tight crop plays with the confusing sense of scale presented by the fake fruit. It also makes an odd sight odder, by taking it out of context. Photography often does this. It faithfully documents things that are unbelievable, yet are really happening.
Traub has 50 years of photographing behind him. That’s a lot of practice at tuning in to the world. When out with friends, they’ll often think he’s distracted. “But I’m not,” he says. “I’m looking.”