Study the Masters: W. Eugene Smith
W. Eugene Smith (1918-1978) was an American photojournalist with an uncanny sense of timing and humanity. Often credited as the father of the photo-essay, Smith began his career making photographs for papers in Wichita, Kansas, before eventually moving on to Newsweek, then Life, which he eventually left over an argument about how they used his images of Albert Schweitzer, after which he joined Magnum. Smith had a reputation for being uncompromising in his principles and work, which no doubt make him tough to work with, but adds to the reasons he remains so celebrated for this work. Smith is probably most well known for his WWII work, but his photographs from home are no less captivating. There’s a darkness to his work that I find especially compelling and human.
If you have an interest in visual storytelling you couldn’t do much better than spending some time with W. Eugene Smith’s work. Books like Let Truth be the Prejudice, The Jazz Loft Project, or W. Eugene Smith, Master of the Photographic Essay, would be excellent introductions to his work. Among my favourites are the dressing room candid of Charlie Chaplin, below, and the image above, Tomoko Uemura in her Bath, Minamata, Japan.
Study the Masters: Arnold Newman
Last week I introduced you to Yousuf Karsh. American-born Arnold Newman (1918-2006) was his contemporary and the studying the two together is an interesting study in voice. Both photographed largely in black and white, both photographed celebrities, artists, and luminaries of their generation, and both used simple composition. To my eye, Newman is more graphic, […]
Study the Masters: Yousuf Karsh
Yousuf Karsh was one of my earliest influences. His portraits, much of his work in black and white, were simple, elegant, and deeply human. An Armenian-Canadian, Karsh was born in Turkey in 1908, worked most of his life in Ottawa, and died in 2002, leaving behind a lifetime of beautiful portraits of the leaders of […]
Study the Masters: Fred Herzog
Over the last two weeks I introduced you to Saul Leiter and Ernst Haas, two of the great colour pioneers, and this week I want you to meet another – Fred Herzog (1930 – present). You can see his stuff quickly here in a Google Image search, but there’s no substitute for having it on […]
Study the Masters: Ernst Haas
Born in 1921 in Austria, Ernst Haas (1921-1986), like Saul Leiter born two years later, became known for his early work with Kodachrome. His photography was strongly graphic, emphasizing colour as a compositional elements and often using motion and reflections. Haas was a member of Magnum and a colleague of contemporaries Robert Capa and Henri […]