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Documentary Photography: Capturing Different Realities

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From the early caveman paintings we have always been akin to record and capture events that have certain significance to us. There were always developments and inventions of mediums to aid with his process. However with invention of camera, doumenting events has changed significantly as photography seems to be the best medium. “Capturing Different Realities” takes a look at Documentary Photography from artist in the 20th century and how thier photographs has aided the growth of Documentary Photography and morphed into what we as “Documentary Photographs” today. In addition to the general understanding of caemra’s ability to document realities, the exhibition will simeltuousnely assess and question the prized photographs from great photographs to questions and understand the asthetic value of the photograph, thier artistic expressions to delve deeper into its value as piece of art The exhibition mainly focuses on documentary photos form famous artist from 20th century century.

Some artist in this exhibition like have taken a broader approach on documentary photogprahy or perphas even with reality itself, and have chosen to let their creative forces influence their documentary process and stage some of the photographs. However humanist artist have strongly contradicted with the idea of these manufactured photographs, supporting the idea of straight photography where photographer plays primary role of an observer only. In addition to these idea, some artist have been able to form a strong connection with her subject that manifests itself through strong images that are often hidden from our sights and are beyond our imagination. Even wiith the diversity, these artists and photograph serve a purpose of documentating certain events that are happening, it even documents borader mindset that can be found within finite world of documentary photography. After all, using artistic liberty to express a potential scene also documents the world inside the photographer which is very similar to sharing what the photographer has expirenced and witnessed. So, this contradicting differences in approach within the documentary photography makes a very interesting and powerful exhibition that helps us give difenition to documentary photography.

In addition, accessing the formal aspects and the excellent use of the medium gives us a intereting insight as to why the exhibits boarding work of art as well. as well as questioning the photographs So the exhibition has taken liberty to look in this the artistic possibilities within the documentary photography along with the aesthetic experience the photographs have created. The exhibitions houses works from master photographers really helped shape the world of documentary photography. Artist Robert Capa, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Brassaï (Gyula Halász), Vivian Maer, Robert Frank, , Mary Ellen Mark, Arthur Fellig, Cindy Sherman. Firstly Endre Erno Friedmann (October 22, 1913 – May 25, 1954), mostly famously known as Robert Capa was born in Hungary. He is considered one of the greatest war photographer. He was able to documented Spanish War, the Second Sino- Japnese war, World War II across Europe and many more. It was in the Spanish war, in 1936, where he shot the most famous photo the “Falling soldier” with his 35mm camera. Understanding the need and importance of documentary photography he later co-founded Magnum Photos, the world’s most biggest photojournalism organisation along with his good friend Henri-Cartier Bresson in Paris. Even though he was co0founder of photojournalist organization, later his photograph of the “Falling Solder” came under heavy scrunity as it was belieed to be staged by some. However, even tough it might have been a staged photograph, it can be considered documentary as it is not uncommon for sollders to fall in the battle field as war casualities. Being able to produce that in an image with use of artistic liberty does document a possibility of a solider falling as a war casualty.

Capa famously said “if your pictures are not good enough, you’re not close enough”, unforntunately while trying to get close to his subject stepped on a landmine, that killed him making him a casualty of war. Henri Cartier-Bresson (August 22, 1908 – August 3, 2004) born in France in a wealthy merchant family was a French humanist photographer considered a master of candid photography.At a yound age, Cartier-Bresson was gifted a box-brownie, a small kodak camera that he would shoot pictures of his family members. Howeer once he saw Martin Munkácsi’ s “Three Boys at the Lake Tanganyika, he was inspired by the spontanity of the photograph and strated taking photography seriously and really started shooting the daily lives as a huminst photographer. However intially, inspired by his painter Uncle, he first started his artistic jorney as a painter. Training under Andre Lhote, who worked with Pablo Pisacco as a cubist painter, Cartier-Bresson learned most of his geometric implication from Renaissance paintings that his master made them replicate rigorously. Along with the traning, he had priviledge to visit a café where Surrealist would hold meetings, which strongly infulenced his photohtaph. Picnic on the Banks of the Marne, taken in 1938, that he shot with his 35mm Leica Rangefiner, Shows his vision of geometry and infuence of surrealism. Cartier-Bresson had begun to devise a whole new manner and focused on daily lives of normal people. By 1932, at age 24, his images of common men and women in France, Spain, Italy, and Mexico began appearing in publications and on gallery walls. Robert Frank (born November 9, 1924) is a Swiss-American photographer who is still active even with at this age. He is most famous for his notable work,The Americans, where he documented daily lives of the Americans, and pryed open the side ofAmerica that was properly hidden from the world.

One of the reason he could document the lives of american in different light was because he was not American and was not in-doctrinated in the american culture.Intially, Frank had come to the US as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar, and was very y optimistic about the United States’ society and culture. However, not being able to exercise his freedom in his photograph along with the differences in culture, the fast pace of American life and the materlistic mindset of the Americans made Frank view america as often “ bleak and lonely place”. His photgraph shot in 1955, “Businessmen working on briefcases on laps during commute aboard Pennsylvania’s Afternoon Congressional” explifies his thoughts. which was evident in his photographs. This earned Frank com. Vivian Dorothy Maier (February 1, 1926 – April 21, 2009) was an American street photographer who was not famous until after her death.A Chicago collector, John Maloof, acquired some of Maier’s photos in 2007, while two other Chicago-based collectors, Ron Slattery and Randy Prow, also found some of Maier’s prints and negatives in her boxes and suitcases around the same time.

Maier’s photographs were first published on the Internet in July 2008, by Slattery, but the work received little response. She primarily worked as a nanny in New York City where she took most of her photographs. She was able to document reuglar days in New York City with her camera while she went out on a walk with the children that she nannied. Her hidden talent and unsual sotry surronding her life has been a primary subject of including the film Finding Vivian Maier(2013), which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival,, which has helped ther to establish artist. Brassai (Gyula Halasz) – Brassai was a pseudonym adopted by Gyula Halaz( 9 September 1899 – 8 July 1984) who was born in in Brassó, Kingdom of Hungary (a part of Romania) and later became a naturalized French after years of being stateless. He was trained as a sculpture and worked as a photojournalist for Hungarian Newspaper. Even though he is a doumentary photohrapher he is also known for his artistic liberties he takes in his photographs. He published a book “mid-night in paris”, that documented the queit as well as glowing parts of Parisian Night life. One of the photograph, in his book shows a couple with . He is known for his technical abilities to shoot in the night. Weegee(Arthur Fellig) – Wegee is a psynednym adopted by Author Feelig who was atabloid photohrapher for New York Post. He seemed to have a his sixth sense for emergency situations, that he would shoot. He was known to stage photographs for New York Post, that really started blurring lines between.

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Documentary Photography: Capturing Different Realities. (2019, May 14). GradesFixer. Retrieved March 24, 2023, from
“Documentary Photography: Capturing Different Realities.” GradesFixer, 14 May 2019,
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