Presentation on theme: "Photography Share this information with your students:"— Presentation transcript:
1 Photography Share this information with your students: Since its invention in 1839, photography has made radical contributions to the evolution of visual representation. The medium brought with it the ability to capture motion, document a split-second of time, and, thanks to its inherent reproducibility, allowed for the wide circulation of images.From the beginning, there has been no single method for taking photographs. “Photography appears to be an easy activity,” photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson observed. “In fact it is a varied and ambiguous process in which the only common denominator among its practitioners is their instrument.” Photographs are made for a variety of purposes and disciplines, including portraiture, science, travel, journalism, propaganda, and art. The medium continues to be reinvented and rethought, shaped by technological advances in equipment and processing and the ever-changing cultural and social dialogues surrounding its use.
3 QuestionsWhy would a photographer pose a person or a group of people? Why would a photographer try to capture a person or group of people when they were not aware they were being photographed?MoMA Photography Theme
4 Take a close look at Untitled (Mother and Daughter) by William J. Shew Do you think this image is posed? Why or why not?What do you notice about the facial expression and body language of the subjects?How is this different or similar from a family portrait you might have taken?Share this information with your students:With the invention of the daguerreotype in 1839 came the first photographic portrait. The photographic portrait became one of the most popular uses for this new invention in that it allowed the middle class its first chance to document itself. For a relatively low cost, the average working man and woman could go to a daguerreotype studio and have a portrait made of themselves and their loved ones to have for all posterity. This is a daguerreotype portrait by American photographer William J. Shew taken around 1850 of a mother and daughter. In order to capture a clear image, the sitter or sitters had to remain completely still for a prolonged period of time. To achieve this stillness daguerreotypists in the nineteenth century equipped their studios with devices that held people’s heads and backs in place, thus producing formal, posed and somewhat stiff looking portraits like the one shown here. Thus, the often serious and uneasy expressions of the sitters can be attributed to their physical discomfort while having their portrait taken. Unlike later photographs a daguerreotype is one of a kind because it is a direct positive image, without a negative from which multiple prints could be made.William J. Shew. Untitled (Mother and Daughter). c. 1850Daguerreotype, 2 3/4 x 2 1/4" (7 x 5.7 cm).Gift of Ludwig GlaeserWilliam J. Shew. Untitled (Mother and Daughter). c. 1850MoMA Photography Theme
5 Take a close look at Frances Benjamin Johnston’s The Hampton Album Share this information with your students:Frances Benjamin Johnston’s The Hampton Album is an early example of the emerging murky dichotomy of what is posed and what is unposed in photography. Johnston, who has been called the first photojournalist, was hired to take a series of photographs documenting the life of the students at the Hampton Institute. The Hampton Institute was a school that provided vocational training and education for newly freed slaves and native Americas during the latter half of the 19th century. These photographs were commissioned to justify the work of the Hampton Institute and help them raise money and awareness for their efforts. While these photos were meant to capture the students going about their everyday life, Johnston still carefully posed and arranged her subjects in scenes meant to display their hard work and virtue. She is deliberately staging the everyday reality of the students to show the Hampton Institute in a favorable light. Johnston is working with glass plate negatives that require longer exposures, necessitating a certain amount of stillness on the part of her subject but her compositions go beyond simply fulfilling the technical requirements of the medium in that they are trying to communicate a very specific narrative of the subjects and their surroundings.Stairway of the Treasurer's Residence, Students at Work depicts six men building a staircase in the residence of the school’s treasurer. The scene bears more resemblance to a stage set than a construction site, with only a smattering of tools and glue canisters on the unfinished steps, a cluster of pickets in a corner, and a few stains visible on the aprons and pants of the otherwise properly dressed men.Frances Benjamin Johnston. Stairway of the Treasurer's Residence: Students at Work from the Hampton AlbumPlatinum print, 7 1/2 x 9 1/2" (19.1 x 24.1 cm).Gift of Lincoln KirsteinFrances Benjamin Johnston. Geography: Studying the Seasons from the Hampton AlbumPlatinum print, 7 1/2 x 9 1/2" (19.1 x 24.2 cm).Frances Benjamin Johnston. Stairway of the Treasurer's Residence: Students at Work from the Hampton AlbumFrances Benjamin Johnston. Geography: Studying the Seasons from the Hampton AlbumAre these people posing?What do you think the context is?MoMA Photography Theme
7 Do you think this man is aware his photo is being taken? Share this information with your students:This photograph is part of diCorcia’s Heads series, a project in which he photographed people in New York City’s Times Square. Among his other pursuits, diCorcia is a prolific photographer who plays with assumptions about the veracity of documentary, snapshot, and street photography. His photographs are often the result of staged situations.To create this image, diCorcia rigged a powerful strobe light to a scaffold high above the street. He activated the strobe by radio signal and captured unwitting pedestrians in a flash of light, using a 500 mm zoom lens from over twenty feet away. A remarkable aspect of this carefully planned process is that the strobe was imperceptible—the photographs were taken in broad daylight. The resulting figures emerge from inky darkness, spotlighted and haloed. Although they were taken from a distance, diCorcia’s portraits of strangers are surprisingly intimate. Over the course of two years, diCorcia took more than four thousand of these photographs, then chose only seventeen photographs for the series.How does knowing how diCorcia took this photograph change your initial perception of it?Do you think the person’s identity is communicated in this photograph?DiCorcia believes that, even unposed, people often “present themselves as clichés of what they should be”. Respond to this statement, defining the word cliché. How is or isn’t this statement manifested in this photo?Philip-Lorca diCorcia. Head #Printed by Pascal Dangin. Chromogenic color print, 48 x 60" (121.9 x 152 cm)The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of Carol and David AppelPhilip-Lorca diCorcia. Head #MoMA Photography Theme
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