Tuesday, 16 October 2012

A Piece Of History

Yes, yes I have been busy again, I now know too from feed back that people enjoy reading and viewing the images, that I or the photographers I have researched have taken be it on the streets of New York City or the South Coast of Britain. 

I will be posting a colour shot too, that doesn't mean to say I have stopped shooting Blanco Y Negro though, no, no certainly not!

Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt (born Hermann Wilhelm Brandt, 2 May 1904 – 20 December 1983), was a German-British photographer and photojournalist. Although born in Germany, Brandt moved to England, where he became known for his high-contrast images of British society, his distorted nudes and landscapes, and is widely considered to be one of the most important British photographers of the 20th century.
He is widely known as the Photographers photographer, born in Hamburg, Germany, son of a British father and German mother, Brandt grew up during World War I, during which his father, who had lived in Germany since the age of five, was interned for six months by the Germans as a British citizen.  Brandt later disowned his German heritage and would claim he was born in South London.  Shortly after the war, he contracted tuberculosis and spent much of his youth in a sanatorium in Davos, Switzerland. He travelled to Vienna to undertake a course of treatment for tuberculosis by psychoanalysis. He was in any case pronounced cured and was taken under the wing of socialite Eugenie Schwarzwald. When Ezra Pound visited the Schwarzwald residence, Brandt made his portrait. In appreciation, Pound allegedly offered Brandt an introduction to Man Ray, in whose Paris studio Brandt would assist in 1930.
In 1933 Brandt moved to London and began documenting all levels of British society. This kind of documentary was uncommon at that time. Brandt published two books showcasing this work, The English at Home (1936) (a collectors item)  and A Night in London (1938). He was a regular contributor to magazines such as Lilliput, Picture Post, and Harper's Bazaar. He documented the Underground bomb shelters of London during The Blitz in 1940, commissioned by the Ministry of Information.
Brandt would later in life photograph a lot of the English coast, he loved Britain, and he is also loved to feature various parts of human anatomy against the south coast back drop to highlight the contrast in textures and form. This is what he is best known for in his work. One image I found very striking was the nude pictured along the coast at the bottom of the cliff face in an unusual perspective, he used the same model for most of his work.
This use of the female form was so very striking at the time, it is very enticing and yet it is also like a lot of us, the rough texture of the shingle beach and the female nude form soft and angelic against this stark contrast texture.
Brandt was also famously quoted as saying; “Photography is not a sport. It has no rules. Everything must be dared and tried.”

Tony Ray – Jones

Mention photography and the 1960s and you immediately think of fashion photographers, ultra slim models - a world in black and white. That is not the full story. Today his name is virtually unknown outside photographic circles, but Tony Ray-Jones was arguably the person who shaped a generation of British photographers.

Between 1966 and 1969 he worked tirelessly to capture his vision of the English, their rituals and customs and to promote photography as an art form. 

The photo on the left was taken in New York in 1965 by Bill Jay, then Editor of Creative Camera, who built up a splendid collection of photos of photographers of that period. I think Tony must have been asked to strike a distinct pose - it maybe shows something of his character, which was certainly not conformist.
Many of the images are based around seaside resorts as in the later work of Martin Parr, but his work focused on the rituals of the British public, such as this image of a couple picnicking in the British countryside. This image has captured the imagination of thousands of people; they’re many a photographer who admires the work of Tony Ray-Jones. 

Born in 1941, the youngest son of British painter Raymond Ray-Jones, he studied graphics and photography in London before moving to the US on a scholarship to study at Yale in 1961.

It was here whilst working alongside legendary art directory Alexey Brodovitch and street photographer Joel Meyerowitz that Ray-Jones began to develop his own way of seeing the world through the lens of his camera. Despite being only in his twenties he was totally focused on his work. His notebooks show that his plans to document the English way of life were well under way when he made the journey back to the UK from America in 1965.

A few years into the project in 1968 he wrote, "For me there is something very special and rather humorous about the English way of life and I wish to record it from my particular point of view before it becomes more Americanised."
Certainly today when I’m out photographing, the streets of Manchester, Liverpool or London, you need only to look up and see how the architecture has dramatically changed, then you look closer at the surface and see too, we have become as Tony Ray-Jones puts it “Americanised”. Although this is not necessarily a negative, far from it. I think from my perspective it is going to give my photography more depth. 
You look at the styles of fashion in men and women, men in particular have opted for that clean cut college look, well groomed and presentable and why not. I don't want to photograph anything remotely resembling the 70s; 80s or even the 90s for that matter. However the style has similarities to the 1950s. 

Anyway I digress let's get back on track. 

Though not alone in documenting everyday life in Britain; his approach was heavily influenced by his stay in the USA and the work of photographers such as Robert Frank and Garry Winogrand.
Ray-Jones’ candid approach allowed his subjects and the real world to some extent do the work for him. He was a "film director" snatching selected moments from reality, capturing stills or moments in life as he saw it through the lens of a camera.

Perhaps Ray-Jones' own words capture this best:
"Photography can be a mirror and reflect life as it is, but I also think that perhaps it is possible to walk like Alice, through a looking-glass, and find another kind of world with the camera."

Tony Ray-Jones broke new ground helping to establish photography as an accepted art from. In 1969, alongside Enzo Ragazzini, Dorothy Bohm and Don McCullin; his pictures were shown at the ICA, it was the first time the institute had exhibited photography.

The following decade saw an increase in photographic support in the UK with the opening of the Photographers' Gallery in London and Arts Council grants helping to fund new work.
Working with Bill Jay, editor of the highly influential Creative Camera magazine, Ray-Jones travelled to the US in an attempt to secure a publisher for his book on the English. It was not to be.
In 1970 Ray-Jones returned to the US, teaching at the San Francisco Institute of Art alongside his commissioned work for both the American and British press.

Tragically in January 1972 he was diagnosed as suffering from leukaemia and returned to England where he died a few days later. His legacy can be seen in the work of photographers such as Martin Parr and Chris Steele-Perkins amongst others.

Paul Strand

Paul Strand (October 16, 1890 – March 31, 1976) was an American photographer and filmmaker who, along with fellow modernist photographers like Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston, helped establish photography as an art form in the 20th century. His diverse body of work, spanning six decades, covers numerous genres and subjects throughout the Americas, Europe and Africa.
Paul Strand was born in New York City to Bohemian parents. In his late teens Strand was a student of renowned documentary photographer Lewis Hine at the Ethical Culture Fieldston School

It was while on a fieldtrip in this class that Strand first visited the 291 art gallery – operated by Stieglitz and Edward Steichen – where exhibitions of work by forward-thinking modernist photographers and painters would move Strand to take his photographic hobby more seriously. Stieglitz would later promote Strand's work in the 291 gallery itself, in his photography publication Camera Work, and in his artwork in the Hieninglatzing studio.
Some of this early work, like the well-known "Wall Street," experimented with formal abstractions (influencing, among others, Edward Hopper and his idiosyncratic urban vision). Other of Strand's works reflect his interest in using the camera as a tool for social reform. He was one of the founders of the Photo League, an association of photographers who advocated using their art to promote social and political causes.

In early 1915, his mentor Stieglitz criticised the graphic softness of Strand's photographs and over the next two years he dramatically changed his technique and made extraordinary photographs on three principal themes: movement in the city, abstractions, and street portraits. During the 1910s, New York thronged with pedestrians, carriages, and automobiles; and the streets became the unavoidable symbol of flux, change, and modernity. 

Photographers such as Alvin Langdon Coburn; and Karl Struss; and many painters, including John Marin, pursued the "great hastening metropolis" as a vital subject. Being a very deliberate artist, however, Strand was not initially taken with the "rush and go" but instead structured his images on relatively slow movements, usually of a single person, as is seen in From the El.
Soon he increased the complexity and upped the tempo of his compositions with the multiple rhythms of midtown and downtown crowds.

Many of the people Strand photographed were classic New York types of the period: unshaven toughs, red-nosed Irish washerwomen, Jewish patriarchs, ageing Europeans, blind peddlers, and sandwich men. Like Lewis Hine, Strand was collecting the poignant evidence of poverty among the cultures that crowded the metropolis. Treating the human condition in the modern urban context, Strand's photographs are a subversive alternative to the studio portrait of glamour and power. A new kind of portrait akin to a social terrain, they are, as Sanford Schwartz put it, "cityscape's that have faces for subjects."