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Histories of Photography - Essay Example

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Histories of Photography

Dubbed as the "Patron Saint of Straight Photography", Alfred Stieglitz (January 1, 1864 - July 13, 1946) began earnest photography in 1883 and from the very beginning was against the idea of manipulation of any sort in the photographs that, to him, meant capturing life completely as it is. He is most famously noted for his promotion of photography as a complete art form in itself. Through 1892 and onwards, Stieglitz became considerable famous for his photographs of the every day life of New York and Paris. He was one of those people who were able to see the transformation of New York City from one of considerable poverty to one that rose as a symbol of the modern world. His photographs have captured the essence of both eras and follow the transformation of the larva into the butterfly.
His one famous photograph is "The Terminal" which he took from the 4x5, which was, unlike the 8x10 camera not considered for professional purposes. However, due to his greater freedom of carrying the camera and talking photographs without a tripod, he was able to take as many photographs as he wanted through much greater ease. Using all natural elements such as the smoke and the ice, he softens the fame and presents his sober mood through the medium. All the faceless subjects of the photograph present what came to be recognized as his pioneering faculties in the field of straight photography. "Alfred Stieglitz photographed "The Terminal" after having waited hours in a snowstorm for his subject to compose itself as he wished it1." (Faulkner et al, 1963, 279)
The complete feel and the aura of the photograph is captured by Stieglitz "I found myself in front of the old Post Office. The Third Avenue street railway and the Madison Avenue car systems had their terminals there, opposite the old Astor House. It was extremely cold. Snow lay on the ground. A driver in a rubber coat was watering his steaming car horses. How fortunate the horses seemed, having a human being to tend them. The steaming horses being watered on a cold winter day, the snow-covered streets ... [expressed] my own sense of loneliness in my own country.2"
(Norman, 1990)
Stieglitz had to wait in the brewing storm to capture the exact moment that he wanted for his subject in the photograph. It was completely natural and the subjects were not made to pose for the coming capturing of the frame. To have the effects of the rising smoke and fallen snow as well as the light hews, he had to wait for the right season and time of the day, but the complete natural hues and lights of the time were captured by him.

A Danish-American journalist and photographer, Jacob Riis (May 3, 1849 - May 26, 1914) is known for his talents to use his photographic essays and journalistic talents to help the less fortunate of the New York City. It was recognised in the late 1880s that his photography was meant specially to affect a change in the conditions of the socially deprived. He used his reflections of life in the slums to bring to light their deprivations and presented them in his best-selling book "How the other half lives".
"Five cents lodging" was one such photograph that reflected what went on in the areas such as Melburry Bend. "His photographs showed a hidden city, a morgue of the living. He allowed New Yorkers ...Show more


The advancement in technology has proclaimed itself in every field and photography has not been an exception. While there was a time when taking a photograph itself involved many delicate and carefully taken steps, the photography of today is easy yet with alterations and effects lent to it through computers, it is not the same as before…
Author : lexieleuschke
Histories of Photography essay example
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