Erich Salomon

Newhall cites as case in point the photography of Erich Salomon, whose ‘candid’ style he claims has been imitated by anyone who can afford a camera and f/2 lens! Unfortunately, in Newhall’s opinion, the imitations fall far short of the original. Continue reading “Erich Salomon”

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”

The art of storytelling and the construction of narratives

Despite Benjamin’s lament in 1936 that the art of storytelling was coming to an end (1969, p 83), the documentary tradition of real life stories does not seem to have waned in popularity. Kenneth Plummer insists that stories have come to the fore in the various spheres of social science:

In anthropology, they are seen as the pathways to understanding culture. In psychology, they are the bases of identity. In history, they provide the tropes for making sense of the past. In psychoanalysis, they provide ‘narrative truths’ for analysis. In philosophy they are the bases for new forms of ‘world-making’ and the key to creating communities. Even economics has recognised its ‘storied character’.” (1995, p 18) Continue reading “The art of storytelling and the construction of narratives”