MIGRANT FATHER

Migrant Father, June 1938, by Dorothea Lange

Dorothea Lange’s extended caption:

Old time professional migratory laborer camping on the outskirts of Perryton; Texas at opening of wheat harvest. With his wife and growing family; he has been on the road since marriage; thirteen years ago. Migrations include ranch land in Texas; cotton and wheat in Texas; cotton and timber in New Mexico; peas and potatoes in Idaho; wheat in Colorado; hops and apples in Yakima Valley; Washington; cotton in Arizona. He wants to buy a little place in Idaho

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MIGRATION 30s STYLE

Dorothea Lange "Ten Children"

Ten Children, March 1937, by Dorothea Lange,
for the RA (courtesy of OMCA)

Text by Bruce Berman
Migrants looking for work goes back the very beginning of America, from the English/Europeans at Jamestown and beyond. One could arguably say that “Native Americans” descended from migrants from China, coming across the Bering land bridge.
In Lange’s era, as the economic Depression of the 1930s deepened and the ecological disasters of drought and erosion progressed there was a massive infra-country migration, primarily from the Great Plains and Texas/Oklahoma, mostly heading west to California.
This migration was heavily documented by the FSA and by others.
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BRIDGE TO SOMEWHERE

Bridge to Somewhere, El Paso, Texas. ©2015 Bruce Berman
Bridge to Somewhere, El Paso, Texas. ©2015 Bruce Berman
Text and Words by Bruce Berman

 

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.

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IMAGES FROM THE FSA ROAD

Okies on the road
Okies on U.S. 66, March 1937
by Dorothea Lange

 

Text  by Bruce Berman

All Commentary (definitely) Subjective

 

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.

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Susan Meiselas on The Engaged Photographer

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.

 

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The “Story Teller With Pictures”: Carl Mydans

Cafe in Pikesville, Tennessee, 1936 (for the Farm Security Administration)

Article edited and written by Bruce Berman

 

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.

Carl Mydans, 1936

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.

A man in hospital shows injuries caused in the wake of the atomic explosion in Hiroshima. Credits:Carl Mydans/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
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The Killer Of Film

Bermaloid of the film shelf, May 2012

Commentary by Professor B KIller

Is it really over? Film? Well, actually that’s impossible. Film is any medium that can hold an image (my translation).

But is it  that film that has silver on it on an “acetate” base is over with?

Pretty much.

I teach at a university. I’ve been there for four years. When I got there I was shocked to find out that they still had darkrooms. For one reason or another we kept them. I couldn’t arrive on the job, announce “The Darkrooms Are Dead” and be the killer!

And, as we went on, the students kept saying, “We love this.”

Well, some did. Soime hated it. Some loved and hated it. Many went on to be excellent photographers (in digital).

The point was that they were still learning some good lessons -as I and my generation did- in that dim room, swathed in yellow-red light, interacting with each other as they struggled with the old wet process of film and enlarged prints.

Cool but archaic.

So, here we are, at the end of another year, and as I look forward I struggle, once again, with the idea of being the Killer.

Anyone out there have any comments on this? Opinions? Experience with being the Killer Of The Darkroom or having fought off the axe of extinction?

Register on the blog and let me know.

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Bruce Berman Shoots Juárez

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El Paso —-

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.

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Ami Vitale; Beauty, Power, Life

Hungary Baths by Amy Vitale©2011

From Ami Vitale’s website (http://www.amivitale.com):

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.

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Henri Still Kicks!

 

Article posted courtesy of Huffington Post and Steve Ettlinger

Is Photojournalism Dead Yet?

by Steve Ettlinger

Born in the 1930?s, come of age in the 1950?s and 60?s, and pronounced near dead in the 1970?s and virtually buried by the closing of magazines/rise of the internet–you have to wonder how it is that some aspects of this wonderful world are still around.

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Andrea Bruce Shoots You In The Heart

Ingushetia by Andrea Bruce

Andrea Bruce is a passionate, stylish, skilled documentary photography who’s images -in the best traditions of still photography- sear your soul and drive their point through your heart, restoring it instead of terminating it. She is the new breed of documentary photographer that blends all the skills of good journalism with all the skills of great graphic image-making and produces a coctail that is nothing less than photo alchemy.

Take a look: http://www.andreabruce.com

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Evgen Bavcar: The Blind Photographer

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Self portrait by Evegen Bavcar

Photography has always been thought about as “another,” way of seeing.

And it is.

But, usually, we think about that as a person looking through the camera, seeing what’s there, and, through the magic of the camera and the film -or digital- capture process, one sees the world in different way.

More advanced photographers and appreciators of photography then allow for the transformative recognition of the quality and angle of light, of the Decisive Moment, of the power of distance to subject or, even, luck or magic.

It is this latter idea that infuses the work of Evgen Bavcar ((“E-oo-gen Ba-oo-char”), the Slovenian photographer is completely blind, completely eccentric and his images are totally wonderful.

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Dhiraj Singh: Video Biographer

[pro-player]http://documentaryshooters.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/my-name-is-dechen.flv[/pro-player]

“My name is Dechen.”

Watch this touching video done by Dhiraj Singh.

He did an interesting thing: A Video Biograph.

In a way, all Visual Journalists who do stories on people, are doing “biography,” but with the addition of audio, where the subject can speak for themselves (edited, of course), where the image-maker can animate the images and drive the viewer’s emotions, the subject of the story becomes more “alive,” the depth is ratcheted up, and, potentially, the medium is beginning to resolve the age old struggle of photojournalism: Who’s viewpoint is this about? The subject’s or the photographer’s?

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Dhiraj Singh: The (New) Eyes Of India

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From “Six Feet Under,” ©2009Dhiraj Singh

For more work by Dhiraj Singh, SEE: http://www.dhirajsingh.com/01.htm

Dhiraj Singh is a Photojournalist who lives in Mumbai, India. His work has been published in numerous international magazines and online journals, including Newsweek, Vanity Fair, msnbc.com, The Wall Street Journal, L’Expresso, and, many others. He has won numerous awards (see his “bio,” on his site, above) and participated in many exhibitions. His pictures of the Mumbai terror attacks in 2008 were part of the prestigious group exhibition titled, ‘Bearing Witness’ held in Mumbai in 2009.

Documentaryshooters is honored to have permission to publish Mr. Singh’s work. We feel he has the insights and skills to show India as it is, depicting its greatness and its struggles, its deep and ancient soul as well as its modern and energetic heart. He, as no other photographer has, since, the great Raghu Rai’s seminal work of the 1970’s, ’80’s and 90’s, not only shows India and the sub continent, he makes us feel it.

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Vote

BruceDavidson_

“Vote,” Selma Voting Rights March, 1965

©Bruce Davidson

Sometimes we forget that the “Big Work,” the work that one becomes known for making isn’t all there is.

Bruce Davidson went south, from Chicago, on  instinct.

The world was shaking and he felt the vibe.

The time was now: Civil Rights.

Real change.

Without assignment or specific destination he “nailed it,” and was able to work on the edges of the news, tell the story from a personal and deeply intimate viewpoint.

This image, for me, is one his best. Beautiful composition. Beatiful moment. Beautiful storyline. Iconic and packed with all the elements that make it a novel unto itself,  if this was the only photography that existed from the era it was shot in, it would, I think, be enough to tell the story of the struggle.

One word and one image: sometimes it’s enough: Vote.

For More on Bruce Davidson: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bruce_Davidson_(photographer)

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Displacement In The “Heartland”

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SEE: http://mediastorm.org/0023.htm

A documentary project on Displacement…in the “Heartland!

This photographer shows how “progress,” comes to everywhere and the displacement is not limited to indigenous people either. In the end it is the interests of Capital weighed against the interests of Labor that is the issue of land appropriation and displacement.

Let this documentary speak for itself.

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