Assignment 2

Research around Assignment two

The 10 Best Photo Essays of the Month

Core resources: PhotoNotes.pdf. See Legacy documentary for social change

Core resources: Foto8#5.1_SurvivalProgrammes.pdf See Survival Programme for comments on Exercise 1,2 & 3

Ex 1
“Survival Programme” creators

Ex 2
Bill Brandt

Ex 3
Mirror of visual culture. Discussing Documentary.
Maartie van den Heuvel (Documentary Now! 2005 pp.105-110)

I am afraid I got much less from these writing than I took away from the previous two exercises above.
Heuvel seemed to me to be saying that documentary was previously presented and understood as a stand-alone presentation, but now is appreciated by a younger audience who have been brought up more used to advertising film and TV, so documentary has somehow been subsumed into all types of media which now dominate peoples perceptions of reality. These are no longer just images but ones able to be interpreted arguably by a more sophisticated audience. Documentary traditionally was said to describe “things from actual life objectively and realistically” MvdH . There were two types of documentary covering social and political issues and some of the earliest examples of these have been adopted as “Art” by galleries and museums. Though modern documentary can be found all around us in various media. Is this a watering down of the original purpose that the likes of Riis and Hine had in mind?

Research Point for “Survival Programmes”

This research point asks me to research photographers mentioned in the exercises mentioned above. I have also looked at some others working in black and white with a view to other work they have done.

Eugéne Atget. After failing as an actor Atget seemed to spend is whole life as a photographer. Although he recorded the good and bad parts of Paris during his long photographic career he also supplied artists who commissioned him to take images that they could then use as foundations for their paintings.
Lisette Model. Worked predominantly in black and white and created powerful images. She started as a musician and moved into photography in the mid 1930s using Paris as the main back drop. In the 1950s she then spent the bulk of the rest of her life teaching with such pupils as Larry Fink, Bruce Weber and Diane Arbus.
Aaron Siskind. Spent his life moving between being a photographer, lecturer, exhibiter, writer, co-editor of Choice magazine, and founder of the Aaron Siskind Foundation.
Jacob Riis. Started as an apprentice carpenter and started work with a newspaper and worked for many years as a crime reporter. In 1887 he first used photography to illustrate slum conditions. Politically active towards the end of the century. Seems to have stopped photography in 1898 and starts a career as a Presidential Advisor and publisher and ended his life as a farmer in Massachusetts.
Lewis Hine. Trained as a teacher after working in a bank. Eventually appointed school photographer and started taking his camera to Ellis Island, As a result took a keen interest in the plight of the poor immigrant families whom he documented with his camera. In 1918he went to France as part of the American Red Cross assessing refugees. On his return he seems to have dedicated the rest of his working like to his new “positive” style of photography with commissions from various industrial sources including the US government.
Nicholas Battye. Nicholas Battye (BA, MA) is a Naqshbandhi Sufi, originally trained in Rinzai Zen. He has a BA in Religious Studies. After a first career as a documentary photographer, he now works as a psychotherapist in private practice. Battye has also worked as a lecturer in art and design since 1974; as a lecturer in religious studies since 1986; and as a lecturer in psychoanalytic studies since 1990. He also teaches courses on Psychotherapy East and West at London University’s Birkbeck College. Battye is co-author of Survival Programmes.
Chris Steele-Perkins moved from Rangoon to London with his family in 1949. He graduated with honours in psychology at the University of Newcastle-upon-Tyne  while working as a photographer and picture editor for the student newspaper. In 1971 he moved to London and started working as a freelance photographer and started his first foreign work in 1973 in Bangladesh followed by work for relief organizations and travel assignments. In 1975 he worked with EXIT, a group dealing with social problems in British cities. He then joined the Paris-based Viva agency in 1976. In 1979 Chris joined Magnum and soon began working extensively in the Third World. Chris has won many awards and published critically acclaimed photography books and articles. He seems to have not diversified to far from his love of displaying social commentary through his practice.
Paul Trevor.  Since picking up the camera at the age of 25 his
photographs have been widely published in books, magazines,
films and television.  Abandoning his job as an accountant, he applied to picture-making the rapid hand-eye coordination he acquired as a teenage table tennis ace. His work was motivated by a keen social impulse, and first exhibited internationally in 1978.Eager to collaborate with others, in 1973 he co-founded the Exit Photography Group whose joint projects over a decade
produced two documentary books and various exhibitions. In 1975 he helped set up the Half Moon Photography Workshop, an arts centre in London’s East End where photography could be
produced, exhibited, published and debated. He co-edited its influential Camerawork magazine 1976-80. These collaborative projects compensated for his lack of formal photographic education. Today his work is in public and private collections around the world.

The above notes demonstrate there is no fixed route to being a successful photographer. Some spend a lifetime in the genre whist others dip in and out. Some like Lissette Model fall into it but leave and never return though they may be involved in other aspects of the art such as teaching or lecturing in the subject.

Continuing the Tradition.

As the exercise asks no more of me than to read the article I have used the opportunity to look at Some of Bleasdale’s work as well as some of the photographers he admires and who have influenced his practice. This section is copied into Research Assignment 2.

Try as I might I could not find anything at

http:// although a search of “agency V11 only had one image at

Marcus Bleasdale and his wife Karin Beate Nosterud are photographed together with their dog in Oslo, Norway on May 11, 2012.

Marcus Bleasdale and his wife Karin Beate Nosterud are photographed together with their dog in Oslo, Norway on May 11, 2012.

Better luck with the rest though.

Marcus Bleasdale:
Truly powerful work but as Bleasdale himself says you don’t need to go to Africa to capture socially dynamic images.

Don McCullen: Life interrupted. A diary for Africa.
Bibliography: McCullin, D. 1994. Don McCullin, sleeping with ghosts. London: J. Cape.
My most admired photographer and most thumbed publication.

Tom Stoddart:
Well travelled and hard hitting as well as truly perceptive.

Eugene Richards:
Powerful use of Black and White to heighten tension and tell a moving narrative.

Heidi Bradner:
Few lady photographers get the credit they deserve for the work they do and the danger they put themselves in. Bradner is fearless in her striving to get involved and record what see then sees.

Narrative. Great press images.
Semiotics: Semiotics (also called semiotic studies) is the study of meaning-making, the study of sign processes and meaningful communication.
Bibliography: Short, M. 2011. Basics Creative Photography. Worthing, UK: AVA Publishing.

 Bibliography: Frank, R., & Kerouac, J. 2008. The Americans. Gottingen: Steidl.

Information and expression

Information and expression

I read john Mraz essay in full as required by the exercise.
Routledge Vol.16, issue 1, 2002, Pp 15-30. Sebastiao Salado: Ways of seeing Latin America – Joh, Mraz

Research on Salgado. I have also recorded this research at

This was not difficult as Salgado is one of my favourite, powerful, technically perfect photographers.

  • Brief notes extracted from the above essay.
  • Born in Brazil Salgado travelled to Africa on business and took many pictures which he found more interesting than the reports he was required to write.
  • He eventually became a full time photographer and is best known for his projects on hunger, workers rights and migrant labour/movement.
  • He tends to concentrate on urban alienation rather than the much covered problems in urban societies.
  • He uses heavy symbolism and connotation rather than denotation in his images.
  • He is considered by many as a Fine Art Photographer whose images tell us more about the photographer than the photographed. S.S. finds immersing himself in long term projects feels more like people are bringing the images to him rather than him showing what he has brought with him.
  • In the S,S,’s works Other Americas, Terra and Migrants are covered. Terra in particular compared work from Other Americas (and its resonance of Frank’s The Americans, with more recent developments in South America.
  • In a nutshell Mraz seems to be saying the secret of S.S.’s work is getting beneath the surface of the images and integrating ones self with the subjects.

I also explored the work of Manual Alvarez Bravo, Nacho Lopez and Hector Garcia.

Gold Mining in Brazil. Sebastian Salgado

Manuel Alvarez Bravo

Foto-para-notaWomen market workers:  Nacho Lopez

Hector Garcia

Research Point 1
This site is quite interesting but also typical of lots of sites which chronical the development and history of towns and villages through out the country. I myself contribute to my villages archive and website at
Humphrey Spender really impressed me with his own early version of Street Photography. He appears to be following in the eminent footsteps of Rees and Hine but is able to put his own stamp on the genre and create images that appear quite natural and perceptive. Of course Spender benefited from the faster film emulsion of his era and was able to take truly candid shots, unlike the earlier social photographers who had to ask his subjects to be still to prevent the images being blurred.

Research Point 2

You Have Seen Their Faces tells the story of the American South in the Depression. It begins: “The South has always been shoved around like a country cousin. It buys mill-ends and it wears hand-me-downs. It sits at second-table and is fed short-rations. It is the place where the ordinary will do, where the makeshift is good enough. It is that dog-town on the other side of the railroad tracks that smells so badly every time the wind changes. It is the Southern Extremity of America, the Empire of the Sun, the Cotton States; it is the Deep South, Down South; it is The South.” In the Depression, however, the South was anything but ignored. In fact, the country cousin became the poster child. In You Have Seen Their Faces, in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men by James Agee and Walker Evans, on the pages of Life, and in the annals of the Farm Security Administration, Americans saw Southerners — Southerners who were Americans. For You Have Seen Their Faces, Margaret Bourke-White — a New York Yankee — took the pictures, Erskine Caldwell — a native Georgian — wrote the body of the text, and they both wrote the captions. What did they say about the people of the Depression South? What did they find to define Americans?
 Bibliography: Caldwell, E., & Bourke-White, M. 1937. You have seen their faces. New York: Modern Age Books, Inc.

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
In the summer of 1936, Agee and Evans set out on assignment for “Fortune” magazine to explore the daily lives of sharecroppers in the South. Their journey would prove an extraordinary collaboration and a watershed literary event when in 1941. “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” was first published to enormous critical acclaim. This unsparing record of place, of the people who shaped the land, and of the rhythm of their lives today stands as one of the most influential books of the twentieth century.
Bibliography: Agee, J., & Agee, J. 2005. Let us now praise famous men. New York: Library of America.
What I really like about this site is that all images taken where archived and available. For instance  Migrant Mother. Dorothea Lange, 1936 is one of the images I feel has influenced my practice to a great extent. Now being able to see the other images Lange took on this shoot now allow me to understand more of what she saw and felt at the time, and I can now guess as to her motivation with regard to the way she recorded this powerful subject.


1936 --- Florence Owens Thompson, 32, a poverty-stricken migrant mother with three young children, gazes off into the distance. This photograph, commissioned by the FSA, came to symbolize the Great Depression for many Americans. --- Image by © CORBIS 1936 — Florence Owens Thompson, 32, a poverty-stricken
migrant mother with three young children, gazes off into the
distance. This photograph, commissioned by the FSA,
came to symbolize the Great Depression
for many Americans. — Image by © CORBIS
The Library of Congress. American Memory. This archive is huge and provides rich and meaningful records of both the history of America but also the historical development of photography.

B&W and surrealism (Research point.)

Read: Canon Fodder: Authoring Eugene Atget
Photography at the Dock. Abigail Solomon Godeau, 1991.

As a fan of Atget for a few years now I found this essay extremely illuminating. The main message I came away with was that without Berenice Abbott and John Szarkowski these works may not have been available for public consumption and could have rotted away unseen in a a French attic. Abbott was responsible for buying and saving the bulk of his work, and Szarkowski for deciding to display Atget’s above that of many others. As Abigail Solomon Godeau puts it Szarkowski chose in some respects to decanonize some figures previously central to photography such as Minor White, Jerry Uelsman, Clarence White etc.
The only jarring part of the essay was the overuse of the work Canon (not Cannon as printed on page 53 of Documentary Course Notes) I realise Canon is in the title of the essay but readind it it became some what platitudinous and hackneyed.


Street Photographs (Research point.)
I have been a great fan of the work of Maier for a few years now, ever since I hear about the undeveloped horde of images found after her death. The documentary on the BBC in the “Imagine” series “Who took Nanny’s Pictures?” 2nd September 2013 shines a bright spotlight on the beauty and breadth of her work. Some of her self portraits are imaginative and stunning and can be described as Surrealistic; as indeed can her life and photographic history.
I am also the proud possessor of Vivian Maier Street Photographer, edited by John Maloof who acquired a vast number of Maier’s images. This lovely collection has a forward by Geoff Dyer.
 Bibliography: Maier, V., Maloof, J., & Dyer, G. 2011. Vivian Maier. Brooklyn, NY: PowerHouse Books.

Five surrealist photographers.
There are a plethora of modern surrealist photographers. This spiralled in number with the advent of digital and the manipulation possible with Photoshop techniques. However if we look to the classics we need to consider the five below who created disorienting and exquisite images, advancing the cultural movement that began in the early 1920s
 Man Ray: Kiki por
Andre Bretton
Andre Breton

brassaBrassai, (Gyula Halász)

HalsmanPhilippe Halsman,

Hans Bellmer

In your learning log write a bullet list of key visual and conceptual characteristics that you think photographic surrealists have in common.

  1. Images were disturbing as they took the viewer to a new reality.
  2. Images are extreme yet creative.
  3. A sense of the abstract pervades the scene.
  4. They have the spirit of the avant-garde within their presentation.
  5. A dreamlike madness is present to SHOCK the viewer and provoke thought.
  6. There are “moments of psychic intensity in provocative forms of unrestrained, convulsive beauty.” (Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History)
  7.  Surrealistic photographs “have been described in a variety of ways: unusual, unreal, idiosyncratic, illogical, irrational, weird, dream-like, hallucinatory, surprising, startling, disorienting, upsetting, disturbing, and anarchistic.” John Suler’s Photographic Psychology: Image and Psyche

Tony Ray-Jones’s eye has the ability make to ordinary into the surreal by seeing the world around him with such sharp observations he can make us then see the weirdness that is all around us most of the time. He creates a feeling that we are somehow out of balance with our daily lives. It is a shame his career only span one decade. It seems that the brightest flames do burn out the quickest.

Having viewed the Bosnian images of Paolo Pellegrin I wonder if there is such school of photography as realistic surrealism because his images convey both realities simultaneously. NN139110.html





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