The folk I’ll be suggesting you ‘follow’ in this post don’t have Twitter accounts; they are all dead people. But if they did have Twitter, you WOULD certainly want to follow their work. So, without further ado, welcome to our first ‘Photo History Follow Friday’
Three Dead Photographers I’d Follow Any Day of the Week, Not Just Friday
No.1 Alexander Rodchenko [creator of the ‘Girl With Leica’ photo you see above]
Up until the times of Stalin’s Purges [after which things got rather sinister & destructive for Rodchenko], Alexander Mikhailovich was involved in cutting-edge photo-montage work and photographs which broke away from the ‘belly-button’ photography of the past. Belly-button photography? All portable, handheld cameras before the Leica were shot by looking down into a waist-level viewfinder. Rodchenko sought to shoot pictures obviously taken from a radically new and different perspective, using the lightness and revolutionary design of the Leica to great effect.
His photomontage work – especially for the book/journal ‘Construction of the CCCP’ – is as controversial as it is extraordinary. His later montages were the tip of the spear of Soviet propaganda.
Here are a few of my favourite Rodchenko photographs:
It has been said that what Gary Winogrand achieved by design, Lartigue discovered by instinct and, it is important to tell you, as a small child.
“Photography is a magic thing! A magic thing with all sorts of mysterious smells, a bit strange and frightening, but something you learn to love very quickly”
He said this when he was seven years old.
Lartigue was lucky and he came from a wealthy family. He had state of the art cameras at a time when cameras and photography were still very expensive. So, armed with the gear and with a childhood fascination with life, Lartigue went off and photographed his world. Fascinated simply with taking pictures, capturing his world around him and having fun, Lartigue had no discernible style. Looking at many of his pictures one would imagine that they were taken by several different photographers. He was the master of the snapshot. In many ways, although Cartier-Bresson is credited with taking the photo that defined the concept of ‘the decisive moment’, Lartigue was already capturing such moments almost thirty years before. Perhaps because his moments were staged, few would credit Lartigue with what they would instantly credit Bresson. But given his equipment, his age… I think Lartigue deserves some credit for at least cracking the technical part of capturing decisive moments.
His shot of an early racing-car took the idea of speed – a new one at the time – and captured it with remarkable reality, immediacy and clarity. The shape of the rear wheels is unique, created because of the nature of the shutter in his camera.
Like many of his contemporaries, Stieglitz was blessed with a supportive father who had money. But after the initial support, Stieglitz endured parental pressure to settle down and get married. He did but thee marriage was a sham and was – by Stieglitz’s own admission -a marriage for purely financial gain. His biography is long. His personal life quite a saga. Taschen, in their publication of Stieglitz’s ‘Camera Work’ [1903-17] perhaps summed up his legacy best when they said: “Alfred Stieglitz had the multifold abilities of a Renaissance man. A visionary of enormously wide perspective, his accomplishments were remarkable, his dedication awe-inspiring. A photographer of genius, a publisher of inspiration, a writer of great ability, a gallery owner and exhibition organizer of both photographic and modern art exhibitions, a catalyst and a charismatic leader in the photographic and art worlds for over thirty years, he was, necessarily, a passionate, complex, driven and highly contradictory character, both prophet and martyr. The ultimate maverick, he inspired great love and great hatred in equal measure.”
He struggled with perfectionism and endured the tussle of having suceeded in his pictures reaching the top of the tree of pictorialism vs wanting his photography to embody the future.
These are some of my favourites from Stieglitz…