Class Chat: Pre 1935 photography


My family at the turn of the century around 1900, in the U.K.

In Class this week, we are to give two brief chats on a photographer from pre world war II and post world war II (post World War II blog to follow).  I have high school commitments on that night, with my eldest, so I will press my chat.

For this topic, many photographers spring to mind but I thought I would start with recording some of my family history. My mother has the originals of these images and has the details of names,  so when I next see her I will update for the archival purposes and future generations of my family. I suppose  (in 1900) photography had been around for about 70 years since the initial heliograph, discovered by Niepce , Talbot’s positive negatives and Daguerre with his Daguerreotypes. I’m not sure of the technique used in these  images, at these later dates, but on my next trip home to where the images are, I’ll be sure to explore the papers? used.


My Great, Great Grandfather Gordon with Great, Great Aunts Lydia and Sarah


My mothers Great, Great, ? Grandmother

My mum says she has the original framed at home so I can’t wait to get a look at this. I think she may have brought it back from the UK in recent years, after the passing of relatives.I’m just trying to check out the era from  the outfit, Maybe 1870? It is quite a bit more formal than the previous two images.

While moving on, (and not particularly in relation to the above images), thoughts prevail, what makes a photographer of their period so popular. Well in my eye firstly the opportunity to be in a position to take photographs that depict an era/ society at the time, whether it be poverty,war, landscapes, portrait. But if you give 20 people a camera to shoot a subject, then why is it so that one will come out more dynamic than the other images? Understanding composition helps, like wise, knowing how to use your manual settings creatively ( which of course, where very different back in the early days) . Lens preferences, limitations and understanding, and  light appreciation helps, but the bottom line, that I feel is important, is how the photographer forms a relation ship with the subject, be that human or not. Another factor for the great photographer is the want/ desire and enjoyment in serving others, whilst being self-indulgent in technical and creative  pleasures.

Artists to Appreciate  today:

Julia Margaret Cameron:  (1815-1879)her  portraits are (to me): sleepy, ethereal, dreamy, demure, subdued, beautiful, quality, and timeless images, all whilst  capturing melancholic states ( in a lovely form). I don’t want to publish an image due to copyright respects.

Dorothy Lange ,(pre-post and during war images) Image: Migrant mother(1936) The emotions this image conjures up, is about the powerful bond between mother and child. The compassion and embracing of her children. The woman is so connected to her children and her eyes tell another story…times have been hard, where and how will we sleep tonight,Yet the woman looks strong and determined, and you know she isn’t going to let harm come to those children, but …doesn’t it make you want to give them a buck and a home?, I cant stand the suffering and suspense, and I’ll never know what happened to them! If you don’t know the photo look it up, you wont regret it.  The reality of this image is that this could happen to anyone. At any stage things can take a turn for the worse and unforseen struggles can eventuate. I suppose this is why it is  pretty important to remain a humanitarian, and view circumstances without prejudice.

The other image/+ photographers that  I would like to draw attention too, and discuss is the of  Flatiron building images. I believe Alfred Stieglitz photographed this in 1903 and Edward Steichen in 1904. I had the chance to visit the Alfred Stieglitz exhibition, The Lake George Years, and enjoyed the beauty and quality of  his photography very much, but the way Edward Steichen captures this similar image of the Flatiron Building wins hands down.

If anyone has a difference in opinion or error in my history observations,please let me know.

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At the moment I enjoy exploring messages and stories through photography. There are so many depths to consider, likewise with genres. There all fun.

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