The Power in a Photo

        Wanyu Zhang


“Light makes photography. Embrace light, Admire it. Love it. But above all, know light. Know it for all you are worth, and you will know the key to photography.”    – George Eastman

There are lots of aspects we can talk today about the Camera era and photography as one kind of art. Even just go through the questions from the syllabus instruction, I’m going to breakup those questions into the photos and photographers that I want to know more and admired for long time to illustrate my answers or personal interpretation for their work.

Felix H Man

Before we start, I want to clarify what it’s photojournalist as an occupation from my point. Photojournalist needs to be qualified several things, the most vital one its they need to understand the context and use their own “weapon” to capture the best moment can related to the news story. When the audience look at the photo even without any verbal or words report, they can almost know what’s going on via photo itself. And this is the most powerful part, the photo can speak, deliver the same or even more strong emotion to the viewer. L.2002.34.66Felix H Man was one of the first photojournalists and he remains one of the great too. His photojournalist career begun from 1920s when this occupation was in its infancy. I was surprised by his work from the Picture Post – the photojournalist magazine published in UK from 1938 (UK’s equivalent LIFE magazine), screen-shot-2017-03-28-at-9-17-41-amalmost all the photographs in the very first 1938 issue were taken by Man. He managed the photos as well as provided the story, to combine an eye for a story with an ear for one. The photograph from Man I want to introduced called “Mussolini Giving orders to Teruzzi, Commandant of the Fascist Militia” Another coincidence or important turning point for a photojournalist is the great occasion or we can understand like the time he lived is part of historical moment. It’s not everyone has the chance to take photo of Mussolini at the height of his power. However, as a world famous political figure, Mussolini gave the chance to Man and that’s become one of the most newsworthy photo, the classic win-win scenario happened. Though this gelatin silver print photo we can find the expression and get message from Mussolini and he acknowledged existing official images of himself it’s political meaningful too. Obviously, this series photos of Mussolini has the unique social and iconic functions, to “humanized by presenting him in a daily routine (see more from “A day in the life of Mussolini”) I think the amazing part of Man which was the reality taken form the flow of actual events, no stages or posed at all.

Matt Stuart

When technology of camera developed, the skill of the photographer and people’s attitude also gradually improved to another level and stage. Personally, I’m interested in the street photography this specific kind. It’s a fascination with people and the way they live their lives is always attract me. So, I want to highlight a great street photographer Matt Stuart from UK and he was recently become the member of Magnum too. I like how he illustrates the city he was born and lived, because when I mentioned Felix H Man I said the historical moment can make a great photographer, however in people’s daily life there are not many historical moment happens and the common life is the main melody.screen-shot-2017-03-28-at-10-22-00-am

“ I can’t hide behind lights and technology, I am reliant on a small camera, patience and lots of optimism. But what I get in return is the chance to make an honest picture which people know immediately is a genuine moment and which hopefully burrows deep into their memories.” I think this quote from Stuart described the street photography perfectly. The great photographer always “quite” when he/she captured the moment through their lens. Stuart use Leica MP with a 35mm F1.4 lens at the most time, the classic street photographer lens, as a film street photographer at this era and can keep this high quality it’s rare, from the interview of Stuart we can find out the answer. It’s absolutely from the long term self-training, 21 years experience shooting on the street, at least 3 rolls a day. screen-shot-2017-03-28-at-10-21-24-am

Stuart’s photos do not have much caption, I always feel surprised and impressed when I go though his street photo at London. The moment he found it’s blow my mind, i know it’s the daily life based photo shooting. However, when you see the details from his photo, you will find the “hiliraious” moments all the time and never feel boring. it’s a vivid mirror of London but not in a cliche way. The iconic London red it’s everywhere from his gallery, seems familiar but never repeatable. The details symbol it’s the message he wants to deliver to his audiences, exactly a token he created of his city.

Wanyu Zhang   

I recent works on my personal website to collaborate the photos and other works I have done from lastscreen-shot-2017-03-28-at-11-19-35-am serval years. Basically, I think the power of photo it’s become more and more “solid” and more socialized. When the camera and came function of cell phone becomes super approachable to our life, it seems everything can be “imaginary”. We adapted photos as part of dairy to recored our life and even we do not have to write a lot. It’s almost change the way we used to be. “When considering the genres of personal snapshots, consider how most of our personal everyday photos (especially smartphone photos) are repetitions of clichés and stereotyped performances (like what’s posted in social media): what does it mean to use photos as tokens of social rituals?” to answer this question I do not agree with the stereotyped performance this point, because I think the photo we choose and take it’s very instant emotion expression instead of the regular performance. And the social rituals part it’s very depends, sometime people love to show their life to public or their friends and then they  post, but of course there are lots of people wants to keep their privacy and we should respect too. But I have to say the social rituals now it’s kind of blurred within the boundaries, especially when people used actively  “poster” equal to many things it can be annoying trend too. ( it’s hard to explain by words but I can explain this during the class)

Some of my favorite photographer website links as below: