Friday, July 30, 2010

Robert Frank [Contemporary Photographer]

Born in Switzerland in 1924, Robert Frank became an influential figure in American art. In 1947 Frank moved to America and worked as a fashion photographer. Frank documented life in America. At first his impression of America was good, but later he discovered how fast paced life was in New York. He saw an overemphasis on money and wealth. This showed in his photographs. He included these in a book he published in 1958 called The Americas.

Imogen Cunningham [Historical Photographer]

Imogen Cunningham, born in 1883, was a scientist at heart. She owned her first camera at the age of 18, but realized that her passion was for chemistry. To balance the two, Cunningham became interested in the science of photography. Unlike most other photographers, she focused more on the darkroom side of photography than the composition or actual picture taking. Cunningham photographed a lot of the plants for the botanical department at her university. She later moved on to portrait photography and then did a little bit of street shots.

Although it was said she focused more on the darkroom process, the compositions were still notable. This composition is good because it fills the space nicely. It also has a good range of black, greys, and white.
Magnolia Blossom, 1924

This portrait is successful for several reasons. Cunningham used side lighting to illuminate one side of her face. This gives her a sort of mysterious look. In addition, the black background draws the focus entirely to her, which is the point of portraiture. The details of her jewelry and clothing are not lost.

Frida Kahlo, 1931

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Ansel Adams [Historical Photographer]

In light of the new findings of Ansel Adam's negatives I decided I would blog about him. I have admired Adams since we watched that old, rather boring film about him in my photography class, junior year of high school. None of it seemed that interesting to me but I couldn't deny that his photographs were beautiful. Born in 1902, as a child Adams was enthusiastic about nature. He was said to have had a photographic memory, which he used to his advantage in learning piano. His hobby of photography started when he became involved in the Sierra Club at Yosemite National Park. When he realized that he didn't have much of a future in piano, he decided to pursue photography. Most of Adams' pictures are of natural landscapes. He was also patient in that he waited for the exact right moment to take a picture. Sometimes that would be hours, sometimes days of coming back to the same place. His patience paid off. Adams' produced many notable works. His attention to detail and ability to get good exposures lead to dramatic pictures. He also had a good eye for composition. Adams died in 1984 at the age of 82 from a heart attack. He still remains one of the most world famous photographers.
Clearing the Storm, Sonoma County Hills, 1963
White Branches, Mono Lake, 1975

Leaf, Glacier Bay, 1963

Fay Godwin [Historical Photographer]

“I don’t get wrapped up in technique and the like. I have a simple rule and that is to spend as much time in the location as possible. You can’t expect to take a definitive image in half an hour. It takes days, often years. And in fact I don’t believe there is such a thing as a definitive picture of something. The land is a living, breathing thing and light changes its character every second of every day. That’s why I love it so much.” -Fay Godwin (1931-2005)

There is something I am going to need to have before trying this: patience. I want to take her advice because I agree that the light is always changing and it can be exciting to see the different images you can get out of that. I will try to take pictures of the same thing at different times of day and post them in my sketchbook.

Here is one of Fay Godwin's images. She started liking portrait photography but went on to enjoy landscape as well.
It looks like she waited until the clouds were dark for this picture.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Arnold Newman [Historical Photographer]

"We do not take pictures with our camera, but with our hearts and minds" -Arnold Newman (1918-2006).

Maybe this is how he managed to bring out so much emotion in his images, like this one of Pablo Picasso for example.

His portraits were not ordinary to say the least. I love the use of shapes in this one of Igor Stravinsky. The composition of the picture is very interesting with a focal point of the man on the left balancing out the huge black piano on the right.

Jeremy Cowart [Contemporary Photographer]

When I was thinking about pursuing photography I knew that I needed to purchase my very own DSLR. Now I have owned quite a few cameras in my day, two 35mm film cameras and an assortment of digital point and shoots over the years that all seem to pretty much do the same thing. However, there was something so captivating about a DSLR. Maybe it was the colors that weren't washed out by a bright flash or it might have been the juxtaposition of the sharp foreground against a blury, dreamy background. Whatever it was, I had to have one. Luckily my parents agreed to let me practically spend my life savings and buy a Canon 40D. I have to admit that I bought it without really knowing what I was buying, but nevertheless I am pleased with my purchase.

Jeremy Cowart is the photographer that first sparked my desire for this camera. Being a business photographer, Cowart is probably not well known in the art world. However, I found his images to be very artsy. He photographs everything from bands to adds for tv shows to the victims of the earthquake in Haiti. He has a love for photography and people, a combination that is golden for a photography business. I am inspired by his work and I think I can learn a lot from him.
People of Haiti. The sign reads "The people are fine but our hearts are still filled with sorrow."

One of my favorite bands, Paper Route. The texture added to the picture makes for a unique atmosphere.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Antigua Photos

A broken down house with the floor caved in. I got some serious ant bites while trying to take this.
This house is probably still being used.

I love the color of this house. Why don't we paint our houses bright blue in the states?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Kevin Carter [Historical Photographer]

Most photographers take pictures for people to view, hoping that it will have some effect on them. What they don't think about is the effect it might have on themselves.

Kevin Carter was an award-winning photojournalist from South Africa. He documented many horrors including the brutality of the apartheid. His real recognition was, however, from a photograph he took in Sudan. In 1993 he found a little Sudanese toddler, dying of starvation, crawling her way to a feeding center. A few feet away was a vulture, sensing the nearness of death and watching as she crawled. Advised not to touch the children for fear of diseases, Carter snapped the photo and left, not offering help to the girl. When the photo was published he encountered a lot of criticism for not knowing what ultimately happened to the girl. Later, he won a Pulitzer Prize for that photograph. Three months after receiving the prize, at the age of 33, Carter committed suicide. The guilt he had experienced and the tragedies he had seen was too much for him to handle.

I realize this is quite a somber post. The reason I decided to write about it is that it seems easy to hide behind a camera sometimes. We must not lose sight of the reason for taking pictures. If Carter's reason was to raise awareness to help these victims of famine, he obviously lost sight of that because he did not have the will to practically help them.

Robert Dawson [Contemporary Photographer]

Robert Dawson was drawn to photography because for him, it helped explain the relationship between us and our environment and helped raise public awareness.

I was drawn to photography because I like shapes and colors.

Maybe my reason should be more intellectual, but that's just the truth. I guess that's a good reason to study various artists. I may not have initially been drawn to photography for the same reasons as them, but I can still aim to take photographs for noble use (which I am trying to accomplish in my senior sem project). I am learning that photography is very multidimensional.

Jeff Chien Hsing-Liao [Contemporary Photographer]

My eyes got wide as I stumbled upon this photographer. Maybe it was the colors, maybe the light, or maybe the amazingly wide angle lens he uses. Nevertheless the combination was astounding.

LIRR, Hunter's Point

There is something magical about this photograph. It makes me want to grab my camera and drive up to D.C. just in time for the sunset to attempt to capture the same moment. This picture tells a story. It is unsuspectingly beautiful.

I was recently commissioned (by my brother) to take pictures of a model home for the website he is creating for my parents business (home building). After doing some research on realty photography I felt well enough prepared for the task. Fortunately they weren't paying me for my services because the pictures turned out pretty poorly. I have discovered that a big part of the reason was my lens. I have a zoom lens, a standard one that came with the camera, but it is very limiting. When taking pictures of the house it was impossible to get a picture of a whole room. The lens would cut off a lot of the view, making most of my pictures useless. I have been thinking a lot about getting a wide angle or maybe a fixed lens to allow for more versatility. I think these photos might have just convined me. However, I do still need to do a lot of research about them before I spend all my money. I think a new type of lens would really help in my senior sem work because it adds a dramatic element to the picture.

I'll leave you with a few more of Liao's images.

Adventures in Antigua

I just got back on Sunday from vacation in Antigua. If you haven't heard of it, don't worry, neither had I until a few weeks ago. It is a small island in the Carribbean. We stayed at a resort on the beach. However, one day we did rent a car and drive around the island which, like most other Carribbean islands, was in fairly poor condition. It wasn't as bad as some other places I have been, but definitely bad enough to be good senior sem material. Yes, I am happy to say I did work on homework while on vacation! Most of the pictures were taken as we were driving by. Sometimes I made my dad stop the car as I ran out into the street to snap a few shots. I probably confused the natives as I was obviously a tourist taking pictures of the most broken down things. I am currently editing some of the pictures and will post them here in a bit. Subjects include mostly old, but brightly colored houses. Get excited!

Monday, July 19, 2010

James Nachtwey [Contemporary Photographer]

"A picture says a thousand words"

I'm sure we have all heard this quote at some point in our lives. Reading or hearing about things sometimes doesn't have the same effect as it would if we see them. James Nachtwey, also known as the 'war photographer' dared to venture into places where people chose not to pay attention to in order to show the world of the various tragedies happening around us.

This photo, taken in South Africa, shows an elderly lady holding innocent granddaughter who is suffering from AIDS.

Nachtwey decided to use photography to open people's eyes to the people who are being ignored.

His photographs say a lot. They speak of suffering, hurt, injustice and brokenness.

What do my photographs say?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Henri Cartier-Bresson [Historical Photographer]

Behind the Gare, St. Lazare

"I suddenly understood that photography could fix eternity in an instant."

Henri Cartier-Bresson, born in 1908, turned to photography after first being involved in painting. He liked the freedom it offered to capture a moment in an instant. He said, "I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, ready to 'trap' life." He saw his camera as an extension of his eye. Cartier-Bresson traveled all over the world photographing various places. When he became more popular he photographed Ghandi's funeral and several other significant historical events. Although he was most well known for his photography, at the end of his career he returned to his original love of painting and drawing. "All I care about these days is painting-photography has never been more than a way into painting, a sort of instant drawing." He retired from photography in the early 1970's and died in August 2004.

I thought it might be a good exercise for my sketchbook to paint my photographs.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dorothea Lange [Historical Photographer]

Dorothea Lange (1895-1965) had a similar vision to Walker Evans in that she documented a lot of the Great Depression. She was employed by the Farm Security Administration (FSA) after they saw her photographs of the homeless and the unemployed. Lange has a rough childhood with her father's abandonment when she was 12 and a victim of Polio at 7. She knew what suffering was. This might have helped her to sympathize with the migrant workers in the Great Depression. Probably her most famous photograph shows suffering.

Migrant Mother, 1936
Unlike some of the more common photographs from the Great Depression, this one does not include any American streets or scenery. All it is is three people, a mother and her two children. The emotion captured on the mother's face shows her worry and suffering. The children's faces are hidden in their mother's shoulders. She is all they have. They are obviously tired and hungry. Lange wasn't afraid to get involved with people. She took photographs for reasons other than the advancement of her career. These Great Depression photos were distributed for free in newspapers around the country in order to raise awareness. She also documented the forced evacuation of Japanese Americans to relocation camps. Here is a picture of some of those children pledging allegiance to the American flag before the internment.

A good question for me to think about is how can I use my artwork to help others?