Saturday, October 15, 2011

Paul Strand - Today in Photography History

The great  American photographer Paul Strand ( 1890 - 1976 ) was one of the first to coin the phrase "straight photography ".  Translated  to having photographic aesthetic  and morality .  Implying that the subject is not merely the occasion  for the photograph but the reason for the photograph. Expressed through a range of infinite tonal values.  The prints were high in contrast, sharper focus, an aversion to cropping with emphasis on abstract geometric structure of subjects.  Strands images were realist and objective as permitted by the medium of the times.  It was a formal style of photography.  As Paul Strand aged he began to experiment with his compositions. His images grew more natural and relaxed.

Also known as pure photography the term emerged in the 1880's. It simply meant an unmanipulated photographic print. It was in growing response to the soft focus composite painterly images of the pictoralist photographers such as Henry Peach Evans and Fredrick DeMeyer. ( See my 20 August post  on Pictorial Photography )

One of my favorite and better known images is his " Wall street " photograph.  It is a large perspective of dark figures and shadows with 4 towering rectangle black shapes representing a buildings architecture.    Paul Strand was also a film maker in his own right.

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