Bibliography

These books are in my personal photography library, so I'm not just telling you what I think is good. If you really want to improve your photography, looking at the work of the masters is the way to do it. Studying a book such as Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, The Image & The World is far more enlightening than any lecture series or photographic "workshop" you could attend.

Russ Lewis, October 15, 2014

 

Books About the History and Practice of Photography

Bystander: A History of Street Photography

Colin Westerbrook and Joel Meyerowitz, 1994

 

This is my all-time favorite photography book. It covers a lot of ground beyond street photography.

 

American Photography 1890 - 1965

Peter Galassi, 1995

 

A fine collection by the Museum of Modern Art of some of the classic works from the turn of the twentieth century to the middle of the century.

 

The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present

Beaumont Newhall, 1982

 

Beaumont was librarian at MOMA in 1935 and curator of the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography from 1948 to 58. This is pretty much the definitive history of photography.

 

A New History of Photography

Edited by Michael Frizot, 1994

 

You don't really need to know this much detail about the history of photography to be a good photographer, but if you're interested in the subject this book covers it in great detail.

 

The Picture History of Photography

Peter Pollack, 1969

 

If anything, there's more detail in this book than in A New History of Photography. I'm not sure how you could have a history of photography without it being a "picture history," but evidently Pollack thought it was possible.

 

Believing is Seeing

Errol Morris, 2011

 

An examination of some of the mysteries of photography from the Crimean War to Israeli air strikes in Lebanon in 2006. Morris investigates some of the assumptions regarding questions such as the idea that Walker Evans added a clock to the mantel of the Gudgers' cabin in a photograph he made for Let Us Now Praise Famous Men. The book makes the point that what we see often is based on what we believe.

 

Street Photography Now

Edited by Sophie Howarth and Stephen McLaren, 2010

 

A fun book with more than 300 street shots by 46 photographers.

 

Magnum Stories

Edited by Chris Boot, 2004

 

Each of sixty-one Magnum photographers tells you something about himself and shows, in a six-page display, one of his or her favorite stories.

 

Magnum Contact Sheets

Edited by Kristen Lubben, 2011

 

If you're serious about street photography or photojournalism, studying contact sheets of master photographers can be enlightening. First, you get to see the sequence of shots that preceded the photograph that was published, which tells you how the photographer approached his subject. Second, you usually get to see a master culler at work. This book has the contact sheets from some of the most famous work of Magnum photographers. Only problem with this book is that you almost need a forklift to move it around.

 

Looking at Images

Brooks Jensen, 2014

 

A collection of images from previous issues of LensWork magazine with commentary by Brooks Jensen, LensWork's publisher. Part way through the book there's a telling quote by Mr. Jensen: "I was introduced to a New York gallery owner who, upon hearing that I was with LensWork, dismissed me with the comment, 'Oh, you're the ones still publishing landscapes.'" Whether or not that's a problem depends on how attached you are to landscape photography. This isn't a book about people or the human condition. Brooks has admitted publicly that he doesn't understand street photography, and this book makes that clear. It's full of what Mr. Jensen considers "Art" with a capital A, and as far as he's concerned pictures of people interacting with each other and with their environment aren't Art. Nevertheless, a lot of the work in this book is very good and worth looking at, and Brooks's comments often make you think -- a good thing for a photographer to do, as long as he doesn't try to do it while he's making a shot.

 

The World Atlas of Street Photography

Jackie Higgins, 2014

 

Jackie Higgins has a strange idea of what street photography is all about, and though there are some good photographs in this book there are vanishingly few street photographs. Both Ms. Higgins and Max Kozloff, who wrote the foreword, have the idea that street photography is confined to urban areas and streets, an idea that won't hold up under examination. In this book we have pictures of streets, pictures of buildings, informal portraits, advertising pictures, pictures of signs, pictures of cities, pictures of rubble, pictures of junkyards… all misidentified as street photography. Which is not to say there aren't some very fine pictures in this book, even some very fine street photographs, but the book's title misses the mark completely.


Books About Specific Photographers

The World of Atget

Berenice Abbott, 1964

 

I've put Eugene Atget at the top of this list because Atget's turn-of-the-twentieth-century photography was seminal to what followed during the century. Berenice Abbott was the person who "discovered" Atget, though many other photographers had been familiar with his "documents pour artistes." Cartier-Bresson was influenced initially by Atget to the extent that for a while he actually photographed with a view camera. Abbott made an iconic photograph of Atget just a week or so before he died. Unfortunately, this book is out of print, but at the moment you can get a used copy from Amazon for around $30. There's any number of other books out there with Atget's photography, and if you're a serious photographer you need to become familiar with his work.

 

Alfred Stieglitz, Photographs and Writings

Sarah Greenough and Juan Hamilton, 1983

 

As you know if you attended my lecture on significant photographers I have mixed feelings about Stieglitz's work, but there's no denying his huge influence on photography early in the twentieth century. Stieglitz was the first to bring photography into the realm of fine art. This book is out of print but at the moment you can get a used copy from Amazon for about $35.

 

America & Lewis Hine Photographs 1904 - 1940

Aperture Monograph, 1977

 

Lewis Hine's photography covered a lot of ground, but it was at its most intense when he photographed the working conditions of children. Pictures like his "Breaker boys in coal chute, South Pittston, Pennsylcania, January 1911" were instrumental in bringing about our child labor laws. The book is long out of print, but, as of this writing you could get a used copy from Amazon for around $30.

 

Paul Strand

Aperture Monograph, 1976

 

Paul Strand was a protege of Alfred Stieglitz, and a contemporary of Edward Weston and Ansel Adams. His work was extremely influential. Aperture magazine, which was started by Ansel Adams, Minor White, Dorothea Lange, Barbara Morgan, Nancy Newhall and Beaumont Newhall in 1952 has published inexpensive monographs on nearly all the most famous photographers listed here.

 

Edward Weston, Photographer

Aperture Monograph, 1968

 

I used to have several books on Weston, including The Daybooks of Edward Weston, but most seem to have disappeared. There was a period when I used a view camera and tried to do the kind of photography Edward Weston did, but then I found Cartier-Bresson and that was the end of the view camera saga. Weston was another extremely influential photographer. If you're serious about photography you need to know about him.

 

Tina Modotti: A Fragile Life

Mildred Constantine, 1983

 

I've put Tina here because she was one of Edward Weston's several mistresses, and certainly the most famous among them. I'm not sure the term "fragile" applies to Tina. She was an Italian revolutionary and political activist and in 1942 she died in what some saw as suspicious circumstances. Edward Weston taught her to be a fine-art photographer and she did some excellent work.

 

Berenice Abbott, Photographs

Berenice Abbott, 1970

 

This is a collection of some of the finest photographs by Abbott, who was the woman who saved Eugene Atget's photographs and plates from destruction.

 

Andre Kertesz: His Life and Work

Pierre Borhan, 1994

 

Andre Kertesz probably could claim to be the father of street photography. He was doing street even before Cartier-Bresson.

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt: Witness to our Time

Alfred Eisenstaedt, forward by Henry R. Luce, 1966

 

The Life magazine picture by Eisenstaedt that everyone remembers is of a high-stepping drum major with a chain of kids behind him, mimicking every high step. Eisenstaedt's pictures of middle-America appeared in practically every issue of Life magazine.

 

Robert Capa: Photographs

Robert Capa, Richard Whelan and Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2001

 

As you know if you were awake during my lecture on photographers Bob Capa was probably the most famous war photographer ever. Capa landed with the first wave on Omaha beach during WW II, and then saw most of the photographs he shot destroyed due to a darkroom technician's error. He finally stepped on a landmine during the French part of the Vietnam saga. I'm not excited by Capa's artwork, but he was extremely influential in the world of photojournalism. Besides being a great photojournalist, Capa, along with Cartier-Bresson, Chim, George Rodger, and William Vandivert founded Magnum Photos, the finest and most successful photo agency in the world. Capa was the leader in that effort.

 

David Seymour (Chim)

Tom Beck, David Seymour, 2006

 

In The Mind's Eye Cartier-Bresson said of his friend, Chim: "He had the intelligence of a chess player; with the air of a math teacher he applied his vast curiosity and culture to a great number of subjects... Chim picked up his camera the way a doctor takes his stethoscope out of his bag, applying his diagnosis to the condition of the heart. His own was vulnerable." I think Chim's most famous picture is the photograph of Tereska, the Polish child who had grown up in a concentration camp and was asked to draw "home." What she drew was a mass of conflicting lines. Another excellent book of Chim's photographs is Chim: the Photographs of David Seymour, 1996.

 

Henri Cartier-Bresson: The Man, The Image & The World

Peter Galassi, Jean Clair, Claude Cookman and Robert Delpire, 2001

 

There are dozens of books on Henri -- there are at least ten in my library -- but this probably is the most complete. Another important one is Henri Cartier-Bresson: Scrapbook which has a few partial contact sheets and series of shots you don’t see elsewhere. Henri certainly was the most influential photographer of the twentieth century. If you're serious about photography you must become familiar with this man's work. Unlike most of his contemporaries, Henri was a very good writer as well as a magnificent photographer.

 

Robert Doisneau: A Photographer's Life

Peter Hamilton, 1995

 

Doisneau was a contemporary of Cartier-Bresson and Willy Ronis. Like Willy, Doisneau pretty much confined his activities to Paris and the Paris banlieue -- the suburbs. He was a very good street photographer, but he set up many of his shots. His most famous photograph is "Le Baiser de l'Hotel de Ville," The Kiss at the Hotel de Ville. I've never been able to understand why this picture of two people kissing on the street made such a huge wave. Doisneau set it up with two hired actors who, after the shot became famous, tried to sue for more money. Another good book of Doisneau's photographs is Robert Doisneau: Three Seconds of Eternity.

 

Willy Ronis: La Vie En Passant

Sylvia Bohmer, Matthias Harder and Natalie Newmann, 2004

 

I’d give this book a B+. Ronis did some wonderful work, but the reproductions in this book leave something to be desired, and some of the street photographs the editors selected aren’t his best.

 

Brassaï: The Monograph

Brassaï, Annick Lionel-Marie, Alain Sayag, and Jean Jacques Aillagon, 2000

 

Gyula Halasz, a Hungarian photographer who was born in the town of Brasso and who called himself "Brassaï," became famous as a photographer of Parisian night life -- including night life in the interior of Paris's brothels. One of his many famous photographs, "Bijou" is a picture of a grossly overdressed woman in a paris cafe. Brassaï's night photography and shots in dimly-lighted interiors are especially interesting when you consider the slow equipment he had to work with in the twenties and thirties. He set up most of his pictures, but none of them look set up.

 

Walker Evans: The Hungry Eye

Gilles Mora, 1994

 

If I were to choose a favorite photographer the choice would have to be between Walker Evans and Elliott Erwitt. Evans was nearly as important to twentieth century photography as was Cartier-Bresson, though their photographs were very different. I have at least eight books of photographs by Walker, and I'd vote for The Hungry Eye as the most complete and significant. Evans was the finest artist employed by the Farm Security Administration photographic project, but he didn't get along at all with Roy Striker. Walker refused to do propaganda pictures, which was pretty much the mission given to the FSA by the Roosevelt administration. Eventually Stryker fired Evans, which was a huge loss to the FSA project. Evans's most significant project probably was a series of photographs of three sharcropper families during the depth of the depression. The pictures eventually were published in the book, Let Us Now Praise Famous Men, along with a moving description of their lives written by James Agee, a fine writer and close friend of Evans.

 

Elliott Erwitt Snaps

Elliott Erwitt, 2001

 

If Elliott is my favorite photographer it's because of his wonderful sense of humor. Elliott loves dogs and this book has plenty of dogs in it, but there's at least one other Erwitt book that contains nothing but dogs. Erwitt is a long time Magnum member and he was chairman of the organization for several years. Elliott's sense of humor doesn't always dominate his photographs. He's the one who made the heartbreaking shot of Jackie and Bobbie Kennedy at John Kennedy's funeral. There's a second book of Elliott's photographs I treasure as much as this one: Personal Best. If you decide to buy Personal Best, take along a forklift. It's a monster.

 

Dorothea Lange: The Heart and Mind of a Photographer

Sam Stourdze, A.D.Coleman, Ralph Gibson, and Pierre Borhan, 2002

 

Next to Walker Evans and possibly Ben Shahn, Dorothea Lange was the finest artist associated with the depression-era Farm Security Administration's photographic division. She was a portrait photographer in San Francisco when she looked out her window and saw a discouraged man turned away from the crowd in a soup-kitchen breadline below her. She went down to the street and shot the photograph, "White Angel Breadline," which made her famous, and when she applied to the FSA photo operation, Roy Striker hired her at once. Her most famous photograph, taken while she worked for the FSA is "Migrant Mother," an iconic photograph of a destitute mother with two sons, still familiar to people all over the world.

 

The Photographs of Margaret Bourke-White

Edited by Sean Callahan, 1972

 

Margaret Bourke-White made a photograph of Fort Peck Dam construction that was used on the cover of the first issue of Life magazine. During the depression she photographed people in the dust bowl. In 1939 she married Erskine Caldwell and together they produced You Have Seen Their Faces, a book that included her dust bowl pictures.

 

W. Eugene Smith: Photographs 1934-1975

W. Eugene Smith, John T.Hill, Gabrie Beauret, and Giles Mora, 1998

 

William Eugene Smith was an astonishing photographer. As I said in my lecture, it sometimes seems as if Gene Smith didn't have both oars in the water, but what he did with a camera and in the darkroom was amazing. He made a series of photo stories for Life magazine: "Country Doctor," "Nurse Midwife," "A Man of Mercy" -- the last about Albert Schweitzer, and several others. All of these Life spreads are reproduced in this book. Gene quit Life magazine after a brouhaha over the way the magazine did the layout for the Schweitzer story. At one point he joined Magnum and nearly brought the agency to its knees financially by taking far too long and spending far too much to do a series on an asylum in Haiti. Gene Smith was the ultimate perfectionist.

 

Marc Riboud Journal

Claude Roy,1986

 

Marc was the French Magnum agency photographer who made the 1967 picture of the girl holding a flower and facing a line of troops with fixed bayonets in front of the Pentagon. He also made a famous picture of a painter clowning around as he applied paint high in the Eiffel tower. Marc was a sensitive man who made sensitive photographs.

 

Here and There

Helen Levitt, 2004

 

Helen Levitt is a contemporary of, and was much influenced by Cartier-Bresson. She also was a personal friend of both Walker Evans and James Agee. Most of Helen's work is from the streets of New York City. Her pictures of children on the streets are a unique kind of work. She did at least one book in color: Slide Show. Levitt is one of the finest street photographers of all.

 

Karsh Portfolio

Yosuf Karsh, 1967

 

"Karsh of Ottawa" was, without doubt, the finest formal portraitist in the history of photography. His picture of Winston Churchill looking like a bulldog is world-famous. According to the story Karsh was scheduled to shoot Churchill during a brief break in Winston's schedule. When he came in Churchill was in a rush and was chewing on a cigar. After he sat down, Karsh reached out and snatched the cigar out of Churchill's mouth. The look Churchill gave him is what Karsh recorded.

 

Looking In: Robert Frank's The Americans, Expanded Edition

Sarah Greenough and Robert Frank

 

Shortly after this book came out I sent an email to some photographers suggesting that anyone who's serious about photography must have access to a copy of this book. I haven't changed my mind. There are two editions of the book: the regular edition and the expanded edition. You need the expanded edition, which includes the contact sheet for each of the photographs that ended up in The Americans. As I've explained in the entry below for The Americans, this book changed the whole thrust of street photography, and not just in the United States. I'd say that by the end of the seventies Frank had taken over from Cartier-Bresson as the most influential photographer of our era.

 

Winogrand: Figments From the Real World

John Szarkowski and Garry Winogrand, 2003

 

Garry Winogrand photographed mostly on the streets of New York City. Like his contemporary street photographers, Lee Friedlander and Tod Papageorge, he was influenced heavily by Robert Frank, but his work is very different from Frank's. In fact Garry's work is so different that I'd go out on a limb and say that he started a movement that became a separate branch from the trunk of the movement Frank started. I recently checked Amazon to see how available this wonderful book is. Unfortunately it's out of print and used copies run from about $150 to $900.

 

Friedlander

Peter Galassi, Richard Benson, and Lee Friedlander, 2009

 

Friedlander and Winogrand used to walk the streets of New York City together. There are some similiarities in their work but there are more differences than similarities. This book is from a Friedlander retrospective at MOMA in 2005. I have a hard time with Friedlander. Some of his work is excellent. Some is -- well, let's be polite and say, less than excellent. The problem with Lee is that he sometimes becomes a navel-gazer and turns inward. To do good street photography I think you have to turn outward.

 

Steve McCurry

Anthony Bannon, 2005

 

If you don't know the work of Steve McCurry you haven't been paying attention. Steve is the guy who made the world-famous photograph of Sharbat, the green-eyed Afghan girl. There are several books out there by Steve that are very inexpensive, and very instructive. Steve turned sixty in 2010, but he's still an active and very marvelous photographer. An interesting factoid: Kodak just discontinued Kodachrome film, and Steve was given the honor of shooting the last roll of Kodachrome Kodak produced.

 

Steve McCurry: The Iconic Photographs

Steve McCurry, 2012

 

A very large, beautifully printed collection of Steve's most famous pictures. This book is a treasure trove of fine images.

 

Vivian Maier Street Photographer

Edited by John Maloof, 2011

 

Vivian Maier spent her life as a professional nanny, but in her spare time she did exceptionally fine street photography in, among other places, France, New York City, and Chicago, and never showed or tried to publish the results during her lifetime. In 2007 John Maloof bought a box of her negatives from a Chicago auction house. What he saw in that box was a revelation. Since then Vivian Maier has been recognized as one of history's finest street photographers. Many of her images are in this book, but there are thousands of additional negatives to be examined and printed. It's a sure thing there'll be more Vivian Maier books in the not too distant future.

 

Annie Leibovitz A Photographer's Life 1990 - 2005

Annie Leibovitz, 2009

 

Annie Leibovitz is a very fine photographer, but it seems to me that too much of her fame is based on her more outlandish work rather than the less extravagant, more classic work she does so well. The glaring flaw in this book is that a large part of it is personal reminiscence on her long relationship with Susan Sontag, and the decline of Susan as she approached death from lukemia.

 

Gregory Heisler 50 Portraits

Gregory Heisler, 2013

 

Gregory Heisler is a very good and very famous portraitist, and his skill shows in this book. A few of the famous people whose portraits you'll find in this book are Al Pacino, Billy Graham, both George Bushes, Rudy Giuliani, and Julia Roberts. A "Thoughts on Technique," section accompanies each portrait and explains the approach and sometimes the equipment Mr. Heisler used to obtain the shot. The "thoughts" sometimes are wounded by the insertion of Mr. Heisler's left-wing political opinions, but if you make photographic portraits you can learn something from his technical comments.

 

Josef Koudelka, Nationality Doubtful

Edited by Matthew S. Witkovsky, 2014

 

This is the catalogue for the June, 2014 Koudelka retrospective at the Art Institute of Chicago. Koudelka is a longtime member of the Magnum Photo Agency founded by Capa, Cartier-Bresson, Chim, George Rodger, and William Vandivert. The book includes some of Koudelka's best work among the gypsies, his striking pictures of the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, and his haunting panoramas of a damaged world without people.

 

Photographs From the Great Depression

I put these books into a separate category because they belong together. The story of Roy Striker and the Information Division of the Farm Security Administration during the depression is interesting and sometimes depressing. Roy was in charge of the FSA photographers: Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Ben Shahn, and many others. Unfortunately, Roy was an economist, not an artist, and he had a hard time dealing with people who were artists, especially since the FSA project was set up as a propaganda operation, a charter some of his people, Walker Evans especially, refused to honor. Roy finally fired Walker, his finest artist. Roy also used to punch holes in the negatives of photographs he felt didn't fit the FSA mission. Nonetheless, some of the finest photography of the twentieth century is in the FSA files, and there's an ongoing effort to undo some of the damage Roy did. There's a raft of books of depression photographs besides the ones I've listed here.

 

 

Let Us Now Praise Famous Men

Jame Agee and Walker Evans, 1941

 

In the summer of 1936 Agee and Evans spent eight weeks with three southern sharecropper families and produced this book on the basis of their observations. The book opens with a portfolio of sixty-four of Evans classic photographs. Agee's dense, detailed, and sometimes beautiful writing is presented in three sections unbroken by photographs. The book is one of photography's classics.

 

Long Time Coming: A Photographic Portrait of America, 1935-1943

Michael Lesy, 2002

 

In This Proud Land: America, 1935-1943, as seen in the FSA photographs

Roy Emerson Stryker and nancy C. Wood

 

A Vision Shared: A Classic Portrait of America and its People, 1935-1943

Arthur Rothstein, 1976

 

This is a marvelous book. It includes extensive information on each of the photographers who photographed for the FSA and it includes several out-takes from the shoot in which Dorothea Lange made her iconic "Migrant Mother" picture. The photographs in this book were displayed at the First International Photographic Exposition at Grand Central Palace in New York City in 1938. Near the back of the book is a collection of interesting and sometimes funny comments written by people who attended the exposition. Unfortunately the book is long out of print, but it looks as if you can pick up a used copy from Amazon for around $60 to $100.

 

An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion

Dorothea Lange and Paul Taylor, 1975

 

Many of Lange's finest depression-era photographs are in this book, accompanied by a text by Paul Taylor, Dorothea's second husband.

 

 

Books By Various Photographers

The Mind's Eye

Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2005

 

This is one of my all-time favorite books. It's very small, very short, and very inexpensive, but it contains a collection of HCB's observations on photography, many taken from The Decisive Moment, his first book, which, sadly, is out of print and very expensive. Last time I looked, Amazon had one used copy ofThe Decisive Moment for $2,000. But you don't need the original. The Mind's Eye covers most of the important stuff.

 

The Decisive Moment

Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1952 - Republished by Steidl in 2014

 

It WAS out of print, but now it's back IN print. The reprinted book is slightly different from the original since some of the pictures had to be scanned from earlier versions, and the original paper and printing method no longer made economic sense. But I've seen a copy of the original and I now own the reprint. They're close enough to each other to be called functionally identical. This absolutely beautiful book now graces my library. It's one of it's most important showpieces.

 

A Handful of Dust

David Plowden, 2006

 

Plowden does one of the things I also love to do: He makes pictures of dying towns and abandoned farms. This book is a very fine example of that genre. I was surprised to find that he's photographed some of the same places I've photographed.

 

Stieglitz: Camera Work

Julia Philippi, editor, 2008

 

This little book is a collection of the photographs Stieglitz published in his magazine "Camera Work" between 1903 and 1917. The quality of the magazine was absolute and it contained high-quality photogravures that could be, and often were, removed from the magazine and framed. Unless you know the history of photography you may be surprised at what's in this book. Stieglitz started out as a Pictorialist and many of the photographs are deliberately soft and fuzzy in the Pictorialist manner.

 

New York Rises: Photographs by Eugene de Salignac

Michael Lorenzini, Kevin Moore, and Eugene de Salignac, 2007

 

A fascinating collection of pictures of early New York City by de Salignac, who was the official photographer for the New York City Department of Bridges between 1906 and 1934. The man was an artist and his photographs are lyrical.

 

Presence

Shirley Burden, 1981

 

Burden is a contemplative and very accomplished photographer. He was a friend of Dorothea Lange, who. had one of his pictures at her bedside when she died.

 

Changing New York

Berenice Abbott, 2008

 

The book was published in 2008 but the pictures cover 1935 to 1939, a period when New York was undergoing extensive changes. Abbott did roughly the same thing in New York that Atget did in Paris during the period when a large part of the city was being torn down and rebuilt to conform to the plan of Baron Haussmann. Atget captured images of a Paris that's long gone. To some extent, Abbott did the same thing for New York.

 

Tokyo

William Klein, 1964

 

Klein started a movement in photography in the middle sixties that fit the picture of what a writer once called "that slum of a decade." Klein's photographs abandoned photographic quality standards. His pictures are grainy, full of high-level blowouts, and often badly composed -- at least by the "rules" of composition. But the result is a kind of immediacy that's often missing from the work of some of his greatest predecessors. Klein liked to be "confrontational" when he photogaphed people, often shoving the camera into their faces. Klein's kind of photography is not my cup of tea, but it's very, very interesting stuff. A companion book by Klein is Moscow.

 

The Americans

Robert Frank

 

I remember the uproar in 1959 when this book came out. Popular Photography panned it. I don't remember who did the review but the reviewer felt that Frank had insulted his adopted land: the United States. The Americans produced this kind of opprobrium because until Frank came along and gave us a more complete picture of the United States in the fifties the custom in photographic circles had been to gild the lilly. Alfred Eisenstadt's pictures in Life magazine are a perfect example. I love some of Norman Rockwell's paintings. I grew up with them. But Rockwell's illustrations of the United States showed only the bright side. Eisenstadt, and most of his contemporary photographers followed Rockwell's example. During the fifties completely honest photographic reporting came only from war zones. If you were around in the fifties and you remember "sanitation approved" motels and drugstore diners the truth in Frank's pictures will jump out at you. The fact that The Americans had an introduction by Jack Kerouac might have helped fan the flames. In the fifties Kerouac's work wasn't held in high esteem by "polite" society.

 

Fun Finds

I'm always rooting through used book stores for out-of-the-way photographic books. Here are a couple.

 

 

Japan Photographs 1854-1905

Edited by Clark Worswick, 1979

 

Some fabulous photographs from the days of the samuari.

 

Imperial China Photographs 1850-1912

A Pennwick/Crown Book, 1978

 

A collection of some of the earliest photographs made in Imperial China.