Thomas Annan: socially concerned photographer?

I always thought that Riis was the first to take ‘socially concerned’ documentary images, but recently found out that Thomas Annan was commissioned by the Glasgow City Improvement Trust to photograph slum areas in the heart of the city. According to the Glasgow University Library website, the aim of the photographic project was to provide evidence for the clearance and demolition of the slums as opposed to actually improving the lot of the inhabitants. Continue reading “Thomas Annan: socially concerned photographer?”

Ben Shahn: Robert Frank’s precursor?

Newhall also mentions Ben Shahn, whose images I had only really read about and not looked at in great detail. It is interesting to note that Shahn was first of all a painter, and as such his understanding of composition is two dimensional, which is a great advantage when composing photographs. Continue reading “Ben Shahn: Robert Frank’s precursor?”

Beaumont Newhall, Documentary Approach to Photography

As one of the leading lights in photography criticism, the words of Newhall are often an insight into the fundamental principles of the art. At the beginning of an essay he wrote in 1938, Newhall touches on an issue which is still relevant almost 80 years later:

JOURNALISM has discovered that the camera is one of its most powerful tools. A picture can often tell more than thousands of words, and a picture made by photography implies by its method of production a basis of fact. All know that such an implication is untrue, but everyone accepts the photograph as the pictorial evidence of an eye-witness – the cameraman. (Parnassus 10.3 (1938): p 3)
Continue reading “Beaumont Newhall, Documentary Approach to Photography”