Picture My Life

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THE HOWARD GREENBERG COLLECTION

As part of my professional life I’m abroad from time to time. As every coin,… there are goods and bads… One goody is for sure that this enables sometimes access to photo locations where I normally won’t be. Another one I’ve just discovered. As usually I am more than just once in city’s far from home I can leave the tourists paths.

Currently I am in Paris. Paris is a City I’ve visited quite often now, just because it is so convenient to go there (as German). As I spent a weekend there and I already visited the “normal” stuff I was chasing for something I could do. A good friend (thanks Anne, a pity that you couldn’t make it) pointed me to the Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation. Bresson was a photographer who passed away mid 2004. He is often considered as the founder of modern photo journalism.
From what I knew about him he was the first one going out and taking pictures on the street (in Europe),… his pictures do usually reflect the real life with all it’s dirt, anger and uncovered reality. I personally do like this type of photography just because I am usually unable to work it out. It requires a special mindset and a good eye for human situations to make this good pictures.

The HCB Foundation is hosting also exhibitions from other. Which was the reason why I was there… At that time parts of the Howard Greenberg Collection had been presented. The complete one is a 500 black & white picture exhibition jointly prepared by HCB and the Musée de l’Elysée.

For me mostly interesting had been the pictures from Dorothea Lange, Margaret Bourne White and Weegee.

I believe the best known picture from Dorothea Lange is the ‘Migrant Mother’, which is also the logo picture for the HCB exhibition. There are others in a similar quality (especially the cotton worker will be an unforgettable). She started street type photography with the beginning of the great Depression in the US. Given the pictures I know from her I can very well understand why these are seen as iconographic pictures of that era. As a modern digital photographer I am able to reproduce her quality B&W work in the post process, but I do have the highest respect by knowing that these pictures are one shot’s.

Margaret Bourne White is a ‘first’ one… first foreign photographer taking pictures of the Soviet industry, first female war correspondent, first female working in combat zones and first female photographer for the Life Magazine. So beside being a ‘picture taker’ in the same league the Dorothea Lange she was also opening photography to her gender.
Most impressive Picture for me is the Kentucky Flood one… a long queue of homeless people waiting for public food in front of a car ad.

Weegee or Arthur Fellig is more a photojournalist, most of his pictures are taken in a journalist mind to support newspaper stories. He is most known for his work as press photographer in the Lower East Side in the 30′s and 40′s. Most impressive picture for me is ‘Heat Spell’.

If you like what we German know as “zeitgenösische Fotographie” (the english translation would be contemporary photography, but unsure if this works out well) and have a favor realistic B&W art,… you should try to see some of these pictures.

I liked it much,… but it requires a lot of dedication to get pictures like this being realized. And it reminds me to concentrate more on the motive then on the technology. (which is the the real art of photography)

–Kay

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