ROTHSTEIN: THE TRUTH ABOUT SKULLS

Text by Bruce Berman

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?”

Perhaps.

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.

South Dakota Badlands, 1936, Photo by Arthur Rothstein for the FSA

Was he (visually) lying?

I think not.

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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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NO NET AMERICA

Migrant family on highway, California, 1937

Photograph by Dorothea Lange

Extended Caption: California at Last: Example of self-resettlement in California. Oklahoma farm family on highway between Blythe and Indio. Forced by the drought of 1936 to abandon their farm, they set out with their children to drive to California. Picking cotton in Arizona for a day or two at a time gave them enough for food and gas to continue. On this day, they were within a day’s travel of their destination, Bakersfield, California. Their car had broken down en route and was abandoned.

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WELCOME TO AMERICA AND ALL THAT GAS

Bracero fumigatio, Leonard Nadal

Bracero workers being fumigated, 1956,
Photograph by Leonard Nadel, NMAH,
History of Technology Collections,

Photo by Leonard Nadel

Editor’s Note: The Bracero program addressed the issue of demand for labor and the need for work. It was a cooperative program that allowed America’s work needs to utilize the need  of Mexico’s workers’ need for employment. It was legal, it was effective and it was a clear win-win program. Therefore it did not last. Too logical. And here we are now, 52 years later, with America needing workers, Mexicans needing employment and total chaos at the border. One could ask, is this chaos or planned exploitation?

Here is a mini-history of the Bracero Program. Let the discussion begin.

Text by Smithsonian National Museum of American History The Bracero program (1942 through 1964) allowed Mexican nationals to take temporary agricultural work in the United States. Over the program’s 22-year life, more than 4.5 million Mexican nationals were legally contracted for work in the United States (some individuals returned several times on different contracts). Mexican peasants, desperate for cash work, were willing to take jobs at wages scorned by most Americans. The Braceros’ presence had a significant effect on the business of farming and the culture of the United States. The Bracero program fed the circular migration patterns of Mexicans into the U.S.

Several groups concerned over the exploitation of Bracero workers tried to repeal the program. The Fund for the Republic supported Ernesto Galarza’s documentation of the social costs of the Bracero program. Unhappy with the lackluster public response to his report, Strangers in Our Fields, the fund hired magazine photographer Leonard Nadel to produce a glossy picture-story exposé.

Presented here is a selection of Nadel’s photographs of Bracero workers taken in 1956: shttp://s.si.edu/1gRD3VJ for Nadel’s photographs and other resources.

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LANGE AND HER TRANSCRIBED TEXT

Dorothea Lange and the Walkers “Toward Los Angeles.”California,

March 1937 by Dorothea Lange for FSA

 “Next Time Try The Train– Relax.”  

Lange captioned this with the walkers own words: “Well– give me the fare and I will, buddy.  We ain’t walkin’ for our health…”

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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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The Funklands

The Funklands are where you find them, and, when.

Bruce Berman started this project when he was in his early 20s, in the 1970s, and just starting out in photography. He cruised the highways and the low-ways of America, no particular agenda, stopping often (to the consternation of those driving with him), always looking for the funk, the detritus of other eras, the iconography of his youth and the times before him.

This America is now almost gone. It hangs over bars in places like Austin or Madison, Los Angeles or Chicago. The Funklands have turned into “Fly Over” territory, still there, still quasi rural, but  now, unrobed. The structure of the Funklands, textured, bold, spectacular, has been replaced by franchised plastic, flatness, sameness.

We celebrate corporate identity in the iconography of now, not roosters and skeletons and old Cadillacs.

The Funk has turned from delight to nothingness. Occasionally  there is a McDonald’s that riffs on a local theme, but pretty much not.

The Funk is hard to find.

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PRE ART LANDSCAPE

Pre Art Landscape, El Paso, Texas, August 2015
Pre Art Landscape, El Paso, Texas, August 2015

 

The Pre Art Landscape is one in which there are images only attractive to some’s intellect that titillates the intellect of others who are over educated, over intellectualized, clean from lack of experience with the world that they choose to not touch and where, through their lack of desire to know a world around them other than the one aforementioned, allows them to revere and praise that which is without interest to anyone but them and their ilk.

So here is an image from my Guggenheim Fellowship submission. I created this less than fifteen minutes ago by walking out the back door of my slum loft (yes there are still some around that the yuppies and Julias haven’t occupied and, therefore, chased out those who were living there, not for some feeble concept of what is cool, but because, previously, they could afford the rent if they were willing to put up with the inconveniences and degradations of everything that the word “slum” implies).

If I hadn’t written this piece I very well may have earned a Guggenheim.

I coulda been a contenda…instead of -let’s face it- a bum…which is a what I am…*

I couldn’t resist the rant.

I suspect that’s what has saved my heart’s soul from an early death.

 

*Thank you Budd Schullberg (http://bit.ly/1KetpPl)

 

 

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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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Street Guys and Old Glory

Kimball the American, El Paso, Texas, by Bruce Berman

Commentary by Bruce Berman, Editor

Why is it the street guys not only aren’t shy about flying “Old Glory,” but are vigorous in telling you why they love it? Compare this to any college campus. Not only can you not find a glimpse of the Stars and Stripes, there are numerous organizations that want it -or anything it represents….like the military- anywhere near it.

Is a puzzlement or is it an insight?

Perhaps, as we look at the condition of the country and the rumors of its demise, we need to start looking to the streets for some answers, not to the walls of academe.

Viva Kimball.

 

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Looking Back At Portugal At Night

Restoration Square, Lisbon, Portugal. Photo: Horácio Novais Studio

A beautiful set of photos of Portugal at night, through the years, shot on Portugal Day.
Officially observed only in Portugal, Portuguese citizens and emigrants throughout the world celebrate this holiday. The date commemorates the death of national literary icon Luís de Camões on 10 June 1580.

SEE: http://www.photography-news.com/2010/06/lisbon-10-night-views.html?goback=%2Egde_1641777_member_123023198

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Fake Photos (according to Ethics Czars at AP and NPPA and every other uptight news org)

Our colorful universe or good Acid trip?

Photo: NASA

From OMG Facts

Source: http://hubblesite.org/gallery/behind_the_pictures/meaning_of_color/

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!

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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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Altaf Qadri

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.

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André Cypriano Shoots The Other Venezuela

From Shantytown by André Cypriano-©2011

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.

For more from André Cypriano, see:

http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/06/in-brazil-finding-dignity-in-horror/

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Bruce Berman Shoots Juárez

[flagallery gid=1 name=”Gallery”]

 

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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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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JR Is Outside In

Outside In by JR

Editor’s Note: This is an amaz­ing project. In the era when peo­ple worry about the demise and/or future of jour­nal­ism, when aca­d­e­mics ques­tion the effec­tive­ness of jour­nal­ism in a 24/7 news cycle world, there is JR, who is pro­duc­ing and pro­mot­ing another form of pho­to­jour­nal­ism and not only bring­ing his sub­jects into the com­mu­ni­ca­tion process, he is bring­ing the work done on the sub­jects back to their envi­ron­ments. Check it out:

INSIDE OUT is a large-?scale par­tic­i­pa­tory art project that trans­forms mes­sages of per­sonal iden­tity into pieces of artis­tic work. Every­one is chal­lenged to use black and white pho­to­graphic por­traits to dis­cover, reveal and share the untold sto­ries and images of peo­ple around the world.

SEE VIDEO

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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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Ashley Gilbertson: Shrines and Conflicts

Contact Sheet of Ashley Gilbertson’s Conflict Photography

“He has a very good news sense and for me that’s really essential,”

says Cecilia Bohan, foreign picture editor for The New York Times.

“I need them [her photographers] to be my eyes and ears on the ground.”

Ashley Gilbertson is a VII photographer and one of the strongest Conflict Photographers working today. His recent work, done far from the battlefield but in the bedrooms of fallen soldiers, is one of the strongest testaments to the outright sadness about Loss that War induces, that this editor has ever seen.

For a sample of Mr. Gilbertson’s work:

  1. For a personal website:SEE: http://www.ashleygilbertson.com/index.php
  2. A piece  from 2004 in Photo District News, SEE: http://www.ashleygilbertson.com/index.php
  3. For The Shrine Down The Hall, SEE:  http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2010/03/21/magazine/20100321-soliders-bedrooms-slideshow.html?hp
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Evgen Bavcar: The Blind Photographer

Picture-5

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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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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