“I looked at some street photography of the period as well, but I didn’t find it as helpful in terms of developing a tone for the show, because I was more interested in place,” he continues. “So much of the show takes place off the beaten path in small towns across the country, so Shore’s work seemed particularly appropriate as a reference.”
Shore’s most well-known series, “Uncommon Places,” offered consistent fodder. The body of work corrals photographs of the town squares, diners, and occasional passersby he came across during a series of road trips in the ’70s, when he was in his twenties. There’s nice connection between Shore’s tendency to drift and the main character of Mindhunter’s own penchant for cross-country travel. The former’s photographs are often titled to include the name of the town where he shot each image; likewise, the occasional title cards that pop up on Mindhunter remind the viewer where a scene is located: “Wichita, Kansas” or “Santa Cruz, California,” for instance.
Throughout “Uncommon Places,” Shore’s camera captured parking lots devoid of people but chock full of sleek, candy-colored cars, or main streets decorated with bold advertisements and bright midday light, but similarly empty of human activity. They embody everyday America—but also a certain strangeness and existential uncertainty that feels appropriate for a psychological thriller like Mindhunter.
Messerschmidt nods to numerous scenes from the show that are particularly informed by Shore’s aesthetic—mostly shots that situate Ford and his cronies on Middle American main streets or in front of dilapidated precincts. Astute viewers should watch out for the police station cameo and exterior prison scenes in episode four, and the shots of Altoona Pennsylvania courthouse in episode six.