Henri Cartier Bresson

Henri Bresson the French photographer considered to be the father of photojournalism, was the master of candid photography and an early user of 35 mm film. Henri was well know for street photography that features the human condition within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment. The subject of the photograph might be absent of people and can be an object or environment where the image projects a decidedly human. As this went on he came up with a term called ‘The Decisive Moment’ that has inspired generations of photographers ever since.

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He became inspired by a 1930 photograph by Hungarian photojournalist Martin Munkacsi showing three naked young african boys, caught in near-silhouette, running into the surf of Lake Tanganyika. The image is titled Three boys at lake Anganyika. The image captured the freedom, grace and spontaneity of the children’s movement and their joy at being alive. After seeing this image, Henri started photographing street photography, capturing moments as they happen in front of him. Henri decided to give up studying art and started to take photography more seriously. He quoted ‘I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, ready to ‘trap’ life’.

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Henri Bresson later on met a Hungarian photographer named Endré Friedmann, whose name changed to Robert Capa. The two shared a studio in the 1930s and Robert mentored Cartier from there on. Robert told him‘Don’t keep the label of a surrealist photographer. Be a photojournalist. If not you will fall into mannerism. Keep surrealism in your little heart, my dear. Don’t fidget. Get moving!’. Because of inspirational influences such as Robert Capa, Henri felt compelled to go out into the street to pursue his passion, photographing people as they move around.

In 1952 Henri published his book ‘Images à la sauvette’, who’s english edition is titled ‘The Decisive Moment’. It includes a portfolio of 126 of his photos from the East and the West. As Cartier continued documenting the lives of people he said a famous quote that he lived by as he continued learning from it, he said, “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which give that event its proper expression”. From this quote we as the audience can understand why the images from his Title ‘The decisive moment’ are so intimate’. The way in which Henri photographed was definitely him being true to the moments he encountered, as the people who influenced him told him ‘Don’t keep labels, be a photo journalist’, which means from a young age he was taught to photograph freely, not to stage moments but to simply capture them.


References-

Website: http://www.biography.com/people/henri-cartier-bresson-9240139 viewed 20/11/14.

Website: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/fb39e1e8-93c8-11e3-a0e1-00144feab7de.html#axzz3JZHUyfUU viewed 20/11/14

Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hyhMqDfmG9o viewed 20/11/14

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Martin Parr

Martin Parr is a British documentary photographer. His photographs contain an intimate and satirical twist to modern life. He particularly documents in social classes and also the wealth of western countries. Some of the well known projects that Martin has produced are, ‘The cost of living’ (1987-1989), ‘Small world’ (1987-1994) and ‘Common sense’ (1995-1999).

Martin has had over 40 books published and has also been featured in around 80 exhibitions in many countries.

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I came across one of these books ‘The last resort’ which I studied and are a series of forty photographs that were taken in New Brighton at a beach suburb of Liverpool. The photos were taken with a medium format camera and with a daylight flash. Martin Parr printed eleven images from ‘The last resort’ in large format edition of five for his 2002 retrospective at the Barbican Art Gallery, London.

The photographs Martin Parr took within this Album were taken between 1983 and 1985. They depict a seaside resort past its prime with attractions designed to appeal to an economically depressed working class society with overcrowded beaches, video arcades, beauty competitions, tea rooms and chip chops. The series was exhibited at the Serpentine Gallery, London and in 1986 was published as a book. By looking through his book I saw how Martin captures any unusual moment, this is something I want to put towards my shoots.

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After publishing these images in 1989, they divided both critics and audiences alike. Some saw it as the finest achievement to date of colour photography in Britain whilst others viewed it as an aberration. With the benefit of hindsight there is little doubt that it transformed documentary photography in Britain and places Martin amongst the world leading photographers. Martin Parr viewed the decaying holiday resort of Brighton and its holiday makers in a way that was new, unique and deeply disturbing. He also did this in colour, something which at the time was seen as revolutionary for documentary work. For some his camera seemed cold and cruel as it followed the working classes desperately pursuing their holiday dreams surrounded by dereliction, decay and wading through the endless detritus of a pollution society. Others felt it showed an affectionate, humorous and humanistic response from Martin himself.


References-

Book: Martin Parr and Ian Walker.Dewi Lewis, revised edition (5 nov 2009).The last resort: Photographs of New Brighton Stockport.

Website: http://www.parisvoice.com/photography/35-martin-parrs-true-colors viewed 27/11/14

Documentary and Intimacy

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Now that i know how to work with a black and white film camera and knowing what my chosen theme is (documentary/intimate), i photographed a few rolls of films. Some as portrait documentary and the other ones showing more intimacy, showing a clear understanding of Nan Goldins work that I’m currently studying. I’m developed the rolls of film, and as i had free time i decided to take some similar photographs of my model with her Nikon so that i could see what the images would look like in colour. By seeing the images in colour i was able to evaluate my work and then make changes to how i was photographing. My model (Lu) had just come from the shower and was lying in her underwear in her room on her bed, she allowed me to photograph this moment. After this she went outside for a smoke in her dressing gown with her underwear still on. I wanted to take this opportunity to experiment shooting with her dressed like this, as Nan golden does this a lot within her work, photographing people in such close proximity whether they have clothes on or not. She removed her gown and just sort of leaned against the wall, we were sort of being true to the moment, as the photograph is still slightly staged. However the image still allows the audience to have their own opinion on it, as it is hard to tell what emotion to feel when looking at the images. My model looks like she is isolated,with someone watching her..turning away from the person that she may be close to as she’s openly in her underwear. This image leaves the audience to decide what to think which makes it interesting. Although Nan Goldins work is more intimate, none staged, these photographs still helped me to progress in my shoots, causing me to relate my work more and more to my chosen artists as i now know where to make changes.

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Chosen Image

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Elliot Erwitt

Elliott Erwitt was a documentary and advertising photographer. He is well know for his black and white candid photographs, where he photographs every day things, such as families spending time together, someone cooking, children, eating and everything else. Erwitt started studying photography in 1939 at Los Angeles city college when he moved to America, finishing his education in 1950. Elliot served as a photographer’s assistant in the 1950s in the United States army. Photographers such as Robert Capa, Edward Steichen and Roy Stryker influenced Elliott to take photography further as he was inspired when looking at the images they took of society, making them look natural, within the moment, and what actually happens in real life.

Roy Stryker hired Elliott to work on a photography project for the ‘Standard oil company’. This experience led to him becoming a freelance photographer, producing work for Colliers, Life and Holiday. He then went on to continue shooting projects around the world because he joined the Magnum Photos agency in 1953.

All of Elliott Erwitt’s photographs are very simplistic and observed. He waits to grab the best angle and photo which comes naturally. In four of Elliot’s books that he published, Son of bitch (1974), Dogs Dogs (1988), Woof (2005) and Elliot Erwitts dogs (2008), a subject he decided to focus on was dogs. Elliot went on to spend a lot of time in film making since the 1970s. Some the documentary films that he produced are ‘Beauty knows no pain’ (1971) and ‘Red, white and bluegrass’ (1973), but the most well known one is ‘Glassmakers of Herat, Afghanistan (1977).

I looked at one of Elliott Erwitts latest books called ‘Personal Exposures’. Seeing what few others see and capturing it for us, is the essence of personal exposures. In this book Elliott put together prints that he rediscovered after a long time of not seeing them, creating a unified whole that reflects a consistent, mature vision of photograph and humanity. He photographed men, woman, children in off guard moments, old people, little girls, and many other things. I took ideas from his work, looking at how he approached society to photograph them working, living everyday, something I am going to do. Finding people in the most bizarre places, doing unusual things, or things we see all the time, find that perfect moment and then capturing it.


References-

Book: Elliot Erwitt, W.W.Norton & Co,First Edition(16 Nov 1988).Personal exposures. Schirmer/Mosel Verlag Gm (2012).

Website: http://hautlieucreative.co.uk/Photography/2014A2E/elliot-erwitt-david-bailey-preferences-for-film/ viewed 27/11/14

Website: http://www.americanphotomag.com/photo-gallery/2014/05/elliot-erwitt-work?page=1 viewed 27/11/14

Eugene Richards

Eugene Richards is an American documentary photographer. Within Richards photographs his main aim is to raise social awareness and they have been characterized as highly personal. In his first book that he published ‘Few comforts or surprises (1973), he photographed the poverty in Arkans. In His seconds book however ‘Dorchester Days (1978), the book comes across more angry and bitter, both political and personal. Eugene has also been a member of Magnum photos.

As Eugene lived in Arkansas in 1968, he became increasingly involved in the black community. He began to use his camera to record what he observed, not only the poverty and suffering of these people but also their laughter, contemplation, and triumphs. His subjects range from children at play to an African style wedding to scenes of work and home life. Death, religion, and imprisonment are major elements of Delta existence, and of these photos. The 110 photographs collected within his book ‘Few comforts or surprises’ that I looked at and studied, express the quality of life in a part of the South.

  

When Eugene was in Arkans, he helped found a social service organization and a community newspaper, many voices, which reported on black political action and the Ku Klux Klan. Photographs he made during these years were published in his first monograph and book ‘Few comforts or surprises’ which I studied, learning from his work and taking ideas from it to put towards my theme. When Richard returned to Dorchester, he started to document the changing, racially diverse neighbourhood where he was born. His second monograph ‘Dorchester days’ was published in 1978, the same year he joined Magnum photos where he remained for 17 years.

Some of Eugene’s work has appeared in major magazines worldwide including Life, New york Times, Mother Jones, National Geographic and The Nation. Some of the books that he has published include ‘Cocaine true Cocaine blue’ which is an extensive reportorial on the effects of hardcore drug use. Looking at some of the books that Eugene has published that I myself studied here and there, I see how he clearly photographs people in unstable surroundings, showing their actions, which give us an understanding as to why they are showing a certain emotion. Eugene’s aim is to capture moments where the viewer connects with the person in the image, understanding their life and behaviour; this is something I have included within my shoots.


References-

Book: Eugene Richards.MIT Press,New edition (22 Aug 1974).Few comforts or surprises: The Arkansas Delta.

Website: http://photography.nationalgeographic.com/photography/photographers/photographer-eugene-richards/ viewed 27/11/14

Website: http://www.photoeye.com/Auctions/Auction.cfm?id=6278 viewed 27/11/14


Documentary project development 1

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The theme i chose for a project that i am working on at uni was Intimacy and documentary. I was influenced by photographers such as Henri Cartier Bresson, Garry Winogrand, Martha Cooper, Eugene Richards, Elliot Erwitt and Alfred Eisenstaedt. Their work intrigued me when i saw how they each photographed documentary in different ways. I took some of their ideas and incorporated it into my own shoots, showing an understanding of their work but also creating my own ideas about what i thought intimate documentary was.

Throughout the first half of my project i focused on photographing people in the city, working places, shops, pubs, bars etc. I wanted a series of my images to document their lives from far away and sometimes in close proximity. I produced contact sheets and final prints in black and white film.

Martha Cooper

Martha Cooper is a documentary street photographer and photojournalist from New York City. She has been photographing teenagers mostly as they rebel against adults, graffiting the streets, sex, violence, rock and roll, young love etc since the 1970s and 80s. She has documented hip hop culture since the 1980s. She is the author of books such as Subway Art, New York State of Mind, Hip Hop Files, We B Girlz and Street Play.

One of Martha’s books that I looked at ‘Tag Town’ is a book of photos when Martha back in the 80s, shot New York Cities infant tagging graffiti scene back when there were just a hand full of people out there doing it. This was the absolute beginning of what you call street art today and Martha recorded it. She would sit for hours waiting for one train to pass after getting a call from a writer letting her know it was coming. Martha did this out of curiousness, pure interest and love. She thought this was a movement of the minute. She had no idea that her lens was capturing the very beginning of one the greatest art movements of our time. I love how Martha invades peoples personal space when she goes out into the street, she stops to connect with anyone that’s out doing mischief, I like the rawness and honesty about this. Exposing the rebel things that people do by photographing it, Is what gave outsiders a reason to question Martha ‘Why is she doing this?’, but it is simply to document humanity’s sinful nature, the realism about the realm that we are living in.

Throughout Martha’s career of photographing graffiti and the streets, she one day came across someone called Edwin. He made her aware of the graffiti that was around many areas in New York at that time. Edwin helped to explain to her that Graffiti is an art form and that each artist was actually writing his or her nickname. Edwin then went on to introduce Martha to some well know talented graffiti artists; this is when Martha met someone called Dondi. Dondi was the first person that allowed her to accompany him. While he was doing graffiti on walls she would take photos of his art. After this Martha ended up putting a book together of photographs illustrating the graffiti subculture called ‘Subway Art’.

Looking at Martha’s images, I see some are staged and others she has just taken within the moment. I have added both these strategies towards my documentary shoots, some being real to the moment, and other times getting someone to for eg go on their skateboard so I can document their social life. Either way I am still showing what people are doing to make up their day. Documentary is fun and it can be experimented with in many ways. It doesn’t always have to be captured within the moment, sometimes you can change a little here or there, the image is still being taken whilst the person continues doing what they were doing.


References-

Website: http://www.oldskull.net/2009/03/martha-cooper/ viewed 28/11/14

Website: http://www.doobybrain.com/2010/06/14/martha-cooper-talks-about-graffiti-tags/ viewed 28/11/14

Website: http://prettycoolpeopleinterviews.submarinechannel.nl/martha-cooper/ viewed 28/11/4

Website: http://hyperallergic.com/102/martha-cooper-tagtown-goingpostal/ viewed 28/11/14

Book: Martha Cooper.Dokument forlag,1 edition (5 Feb 2009).Tag Town.