HT1 Essential Reading: Joel Eisinger, ‘Straight Photography’

This weeks essential reading was ‘Straight Photography’ in Trance and Transformation: American Criticism of Photography in the Modernist Period, University of New Mexico Press, 1995. This book, as said in the title discussed straight photography and photographers who were within this group and what they felt was ‘Straight Photography’ it also looks into Pictorialism. Some of the photographers that are discussed are Alfred Stieglitz, Edward Weston, Ansel Adams and Beaumont Newhall.
Something that is discussed early on is how in the 1950’s the States was dominated by commercial press and everyone was moving towards being a journalist or advertiser instead of working on their own art for exhibitions; however instead of conforming to this Straight Photographers were working on exhibition work preferring to have a small interested audience than a mass of followers who are just following the crowd and not giving it much thought. It is definitely easy to do things the easy way, and I feel that many would prefer to have a mass audience and do less work than work really hard and put a lot of effort in for a small amount of recognition.
Another point that I found interesting was this ‘If photography could be embraced as a product of science, Strand believed it could play an important role in modern society by humanising technology.’ I had never thought of photography as science as I was born into a world that already had this technology, and so it was already humanised and a part of everyday life.
It was fascinating reading the thoughts about straight photography when it was first in its element, I must admit I had never heard of straight photography before as so I was intrigued to find out what it was, even though the title is quite self-explanatory.


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