Arthur Rothstein was hand picked by Director Roy Stryker to be one of the original photographers for the Historical Section of the Resettlement Administration (later the Farm Security Administration/FSA). The unit was birthed to be an explainer for agriculture projects that benefited the agrarian sectors of Depression-ravish America. Rothstein’s “eye” was excellent, his technical skills first rate and he always came back with the goods and then some.
Why doesn’t he get the attention of Dorothea Lange or Walker Evans, or, even, Russell Lee?
Was it the cow skull “controversy?”
For me this “controversy has always seemed,well… overblown. He moved the skull several times and then, finally, settled on the one we all know.
The meteorologists call this a “High Pressure system being pushed out by a Low Pressure system.”
Photographers will admit “every once in a while things come together and you get a lucky.”
What do I call it? What does one get for being out there, every evening and every day, always with your “axe (camera)at the ready, often coming home with nothing but the pleasure of having been out there trying?”
The funny thing is, as usual, I was in a part for town I’d never been in before (there are few left). It is a very unusual ‘hood for El Paso. In another city one would call it the “ghetto.” Here, no one thinks there is a ghetto. Being a predominantly latino city (82%), if you have a neighborhood that is lower income, the natural thing is to call it a barrio. This neighborhood was definitely “low income,” and of the three people I conversed with, two had been drinking alcohol to the point of inebriation. It is a mostly Black neighborhood, unusual in El Paso that is only 4% African-American.
The Farm Security Administration (FSA) started out to show government programs to the taxpaying public, to gain support for the New Deal agriculture initiatives of the Resettlement Administration (RA). From mid 1936 to late 1939 it did that but in the doing it found itself -pushed by the hand of its Director, Roy Stryker- documenting “American Life.”
The beginning of the FSA concentrated on the devastation of people and land of the agrarian sector but, as time went on, it broadened its image-making to include the way all Americans lived and worked.
The America of the 1930s is still out there, in the backlands, far away from the eyes of urban America. In fact, if one only learned of the interior of America from the mainstream media (all situated in urban America) one could not know that the America of the 1930s FSA is ongoing, alive, and functioning.
These images are a sample from the FSA road, a road I travel often, now, in 2015, seventy nine years after the creation of the FSA and their portrayal of America.
Then as now it is typified by open space, graphic simplicity and, agriculture and a sense of order now uncommon in urban America.
Editor’s note: Susan Meiselas, Magnum Photographer and long time great documentarian, discusses documentary photography, motivations, uses, intentions and hopes for the work’s impact on subjects and society.
This project, funded by the Open Society Foundations (Meiselas Co-Curated the project’s exhibition), shows the work of some of the world’s best contemporary photographers working in this discipline.
NASA says that taking color pictures with the Hubble telescope is much more complex than taking pictures with a regular camera. The reason for this is that the telescope uses special electronic detectors instead of using film.
The finished pictures that we see are actually combinations of various black-and-white exposures to which color has been added. Sadly, this means that sometimes they play with color as a tool. The colors you see on a photo aren’t necessarily what you’d see in real life.
The way they do it, is they have different filters that capture different sections of the color spectrum. For example, they will adjust their sensors to capture red light, then green light, then blue light.
This gets them 3 black and white photos. However, they each are of a different brightness depending on what color it is. In a picture of Mars, the red photo will be brighter than the others.
After they color each photo, they combine them and the result is the photos you see them publish!
Carl Mydans began his photographic career with the Farm Security Administration in 1935, and was quickly hired away by Life magazine in 1936. Mydans photographed national stories until 1939, when Life sent Carl and his wife Shelley Smith Mydans to cover the war in Europe as the first husband and wife photo-journalist team.
From Europe, the couple was re-assigned to the Pacific theater. In 1941 they were captured by Japanese forces in the Philippines and held as prisoners of war until 1943. Mydans returned to the war alone in 1944 to cover the Italian front, while his wife and partner remained behind in the United States.
Carl Mydans was born in Boston on May 20, 1907. The family moved to Medford, Massachusetts, on the Mystic River where Carl went to high school and worked in the local boatyards after school and on weekends. He later became interested in journalism and worked as a free-lance reporter for several local newspapers. In 1930 he graduated from the Boston University School of Journalism.
Mydans then moved to New York and, while working as a reporter for the “American Banker,” began to study photography at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. In July 1935 his skill with the new 35mm “miniature” camera landed him a job with the Department of the Interior’s Resettlement Administration, which soon merged into the Farm Security Administration (FSA). Mydans joined Walker Evans and Arthur Rothstein as the core of the remarkable team of photographers assembled by Roy Stryker to document rural America.
While travelling through the southern states photographing everything that had to do with cotton, Mydans developed the shooting style he would use throughout his career. He concentrated on people, and he photographed them in a respectful and straightforward manner. As he had been taught to do as a reporter, he kept careful notes on every shot.
When Mydans joined the staff of Life in 1936 he joined a group of photojournalists who were changing the way press photography was done. Photojournalists had traditionally used 4×5 Speed Graphic cameras with flashguns and reflector pans, and their pictures of people tended to look much the same: overlit foregrounds fell off to dark backdrops that had no detail. But Mydans and his colleagues at Life relied on 35mm cameras that allowed them to work with available light, capturing a new kind of excitement and activity in their photographs. Their success with the small camera revolutionized the practice of photojournalism.
Altaf Qadri, 35, is an award winning photographer.
Qadri, 35, won a World Press Photo award this year for his poignant photograph of relatives mourning over the body of a man killed in a shooting by Indian police in Indian-controlled Kashmir.
photography Altaf Qadri
Qadri, an Indian citizen, is a native of the Kashmiri city of Srinagar. He studied science at Kashmir University and worked as a computer engineer before taking a job as a staff photographer at a local Kashmiri newspaper in 2001.
CLICK ON THIS IMAGE FOR MORE Altaf Qadri:
In 2003, he joined the European Press Photo Agency and covered the conflict in Kashmir. In 2008, he began working for The Associated Press in the Indian city of Amritsar. His work has appeared in magazines and newspapers around the world and has been exhibited in the United States, China, France and India.
André Cypriano takes us into the forbidden hills of Caracas Venezuela. He takes us into a strange land of oddly shaped houses, winding streets carved out of the hills, into a land so odd and so foreign that it must be myth but can only be reality. He notices, as all greart documnentarey phtography does, that ordinary reality, in some cases, is always more intense and mind-boggling than any fiction can be,
Cypriano takes us to Rochinha.
How he got there, who gave him access and what he encounters is worth serious viewing time. In the New York times Lens Blog post, below, wander with André.
He will take you on a journey you well not forget.
Bruce shoots Juárez. Reluctantly and with remorse.
Since 2008 the photographer has been documenting the aftermath of violence in the troubled northern Mexico city. His interest is in the effect of the Cartel War on the population of the city, particularly the effect on the children of the city who have grown up knowing little else.
His current work is in a mental institution in the city, what he refers to as “The House Of The Abandoned.”.
The body of work -The Other Truth- will appear on this site on November 18th.
Ami Vitale’s journey as a photojournalist has taken her to more than 75 countries. She has witnessed civil unrest, poverty, destruction of life, and unspeakable violence. But she has also experienced surreal beauty and the enduring power of the human spirit, and she is committed to highlighting the surprising and subtle similarities between cultures. Her photographs have been
exhibited around the world in museums and galleries and published in international magazines including National Geographic, Adventure, Geo, Newsweek, Time, Smithsonian. Her work has garnered multiple awards from prestigious organizations including World Press Photos, the Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism, Lucie awards, the Daniel Pearl Award for Outstanding Reporting, and the Magazine Photographer of the Year award, among many others.
Now based in Montana, Vitale is a contract photographer with National Geographic magazine and frequently gives workshops throughout the Americas, Europe and Asia. She is also making a documentary film on migration in Bangladesh and writing a book about the stories behind the images.