Creative Photography Résumé
19th and Early 20th Centuries
"The Epoch of the Daguerreotype". At the turn of the 1830s Joseph Nicéphore Niepce, Louis- Jacques-Mundé Daguerre and Henry Fox Talbot capped centuries of inventive endeavour discovering ways and means of recording on light-sensitized metal plates, notably the daguerreotype, or sensitized paper, the calotype, the light image obtained with the aid of the camera obscura. The first technique of the daguerreotype held sway up to the early 1850s. Though enthusiastically welcomed by scientist and artist alike, it was also ridiculed for attempting to compete with painting and engraving. The inventors who improved upon the daguerreotype are listed. Included are Russia's first photographers in this field, notably Alexei Grekov, Sergei Levitsky, Carl Dauthendey and the Zwerner brothers, to mention but several. However it was Talbot's calotype that paved the way for modern photography. In 1848 Niepce's second cousin de Saint Victor, suggested replacing the sensitized paper with an albumin- coated glass plate sensitized by further coats of silver. Then, in 1851 Frederick Scott Archer coated the glass plate with a colloidal emulsion. By the mid-1850s the daguerreotype yielded pride of place to the wet collodion process. The new technique enabled copies to be made. Photo-enlargement was practised.
"The Achievements of Documentary Photography". Studio portrait photography was common. Scenic and ethnographic photography was essayed. Photographers who took pictures of wartime events in the 1850s and 1860s included the Englishman Rodger Fenton, the Romanian Karol Popp Szathmari, the American Matthew B. Brady, the Czech Josef Bures, the Bulgar Andrei Karastoyanov and the four Russians Alexei Ivanov, Mikhail Revensky, Dmitry Nikitin and Karl Migursky who photographed the fighting during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78. Photography adapted to the filming of events, social phenomena and scenic views serves to communicate with visual information.
"Where Does Photography Stand Amidst the Arts?" Cited are comments about photography and its link with the fine arts. Its involvement in creative art was mostly denied, or at best condescendingly acknowledged. Quoted are Charles Baudelaire, Théophile Gautier and Friedrich Fischer. Facts are listed as to the use of photographs by painters as auxiliary. Set out are the views on early photography voiced by the noted Russian art critic and historian Vladimir Stassov. The circle of fine arts refused to accept photography. However it was incidentally mentioned in writings devoted to the morphology of art. True, some perspicacious personalities in the world of culture predicted that the new technique for obtaining images would inevitably become part and parcel of art culture.
Early Art Photography
"Eminent Portraitists". Reviewed are the efforts of several professional photo-portraitists and the proprietors of leading photographic studios, among them the two Russians Karl Migursky and Sergei Levitsky and the two Frenchmen Antoine Adam-Salomon and Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri. Described is the creative heritage of such gifted masters as David Octavius Hill, Robert Adamson and Julia Margaret Cameron in Great Britain, the Russian Andrei Denier and the two Frenchmen Nadar and Etienne Carjat. The styles of the leading photo-portraitists of the 1840s and subsequent decades are described.
"Composition and Montage". By the mid-19th century artistically gifted photographers sought, like painters, to limn images of the "new reality" as they themselves imagined it, let alone produce "photographic images of the world". Portraitists evolved montages and intricate, metaphorical compositions marked by fantasy and allegory. Instances are provided from the careers of Oscar Gustave Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson. Closely associated with this trend were the photographs of the mathematician and writer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as the Lewis Caroll of Alice in Wonderland fame.
"Masters of Genre Photography". Described is the work of two Russian photographers, one, William Carrick of Scottish descent, the other, Andrei Karelin, both with an Academy education, who preferred unmontaged single-plate genre photography. The first, a portrait photographer who ran a studio in the then Russian capital of St. Petersburg, went out each year to Russia's Volga provinces to take pictures of "popular types" and "genre scenes". The other, who lived in Nizhny Novgorod, today the Volga city of Gorky, both photographed, especially between 1875 and 1885, and painted. Along with their third confrere, the earlier-mentioned Andrei Denier, they got the country's artists deeply interested in photography's art potential. Thus, it was greatly appreciated by such leading painters as the landscapist Ivan Shishkin, Ivan Kramskoi, one of the driving spirits of the Peredvizhniki (Itinerants) school, and the noted Ilya Repin, of Volga Bargemen fame, who often employed photographs as preliminary sketches for their paintings. Russian art photography forged ahead, on a par with painting.
The Search for Independence
"The Magic of the Arrested Moment". In the 1880s the American Edward Muybridge and the French photographer Etienne Marey evolved techniques for photographing people and animals in the process of movement, with this divided into several phases. The Russian Sigizmund Yurkovsky produced the prototype of the curtain-slit shutter; cameras with a more sophisticated shutter of this type as evolved by Ottomar Anschuetz were manufactured by the Herz Firm of Germany. A new era in amateur photography was ushered in when George Eastman developed his cellulose film and the first Kodak hand cameras were manufactured. Photographers in different countries mastered speed techniques for the taking of still pictures.
"True to Life". A new democratic school of photography with the emphasis on verisimilitude emerged to take over from the old approach as expressed among others by Rejlander, Robinson and Karelin. Briefly described are the careers of Peter Henry Emerson, Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, and, especially Alfred Stieglitz, the last of whom turned over a new page in the annals of photography as an art in the USA. Also noted are such news photographers as Jakob A. Riis and Lewis Wickes Hine. In an account about Maxim Dmitriyev, the father of Russian publicistic photography, who was highly active in this field between the 1880s and early 1900s, his close connections with the revolutionary democratic movement of the time and his friendship with the proletarian author Maxim Gorky, are highlighted. Others deserving of note were Dmitry Yermakov who did much fine ethnographic genre photography in Georgia and Armenia, the Urals photographers Valéry Metenkov and Nikolai Terekhov, and the Polish-born Ukrainian photographers Mikhail Greim and Iosif Khmelevsky, Karl Bulla, Alexander Saveliyev and Pyotr Otsup, Russia's first press photographers, who made a name for themselves at the turn of the century, subsequently chronicled the events of the Great October Socialist Revolution of 1917. There is praise for Eugène Atget, the Grand Old Man of early-20th-century French realist photography, who along with Dmitriyev and Stieglitz most strikingly illustrated turn-of-the-century photography's switch towards verisimilitude.
"Conflict and Co-operation". Comments on photography by Hippolyte Adolphe Taine, the noted French art historian and critic, Pavel Chistyakov, teacher of many Russian artists and himself painter, Auguste Rodin, the famous French sculptor, and Apollinary Vasnetsov, painter and brother of the more famous Victor Vasnetsov, are cited. Assessments of photography's contribution to the arts were conflicting. Its close link with painting is illustrated by examples culled from the work of Edgar Degas, Paul Gaugin and other artists. Such noted explorers as Pyotr Kozlov and authors as Emile Zola and George Bernard Shaw were capable photographers. The Russian microbiologist and Nobel prizewinner Ilya Mechnikov especially appreciated photography's ability to "record passing life". The noted Russian naturalist Kliment Timiryazev ardently advocated photography as an art in its own right. With the cinema in the offing, photography as the first of the arts to derive from pictorial technology, had entrenched itself in art proper and in the illustrated press as the image-fixing recorder of events.
New Close-Up with Painting and Graphic Arts
"Golden Age of Mood Photography". Expounded are the techniques and aesthetic criteria that set the tune for art photography's espousal primarily of Impressionist tendencies. The symptoms of this manner in professional and amateur photography are characterized. Named among its exponents are Britons Alfred Horseleigh-Hinton, Emil Otto Hoppé and Alexander Keighley, the Belgian Leonard Missonne, the Frenchmen Robert Demachy and Carl Puyo, the Austro-Hungarians Hans Watzek, Hugo Heeneberg and Heinrich Kühn, and the Germans Frau E. Nothman, Rudolph Dührkoop, Nickola Perscheid and Hugo Erfurth. An analysis is preferred of the work of early-20th-century Russian art photographers Nikolai A. Petrov, Nikolai Bobir, who specialized in landscapes, the portraitist Miron Sherling, and also Yuri Yeryomin and Nikolai Andreyev, who were likewise active after the 1917 October Revolution in Russia. Note is taken of the early stages in the careers of the Czech master Josef Sudek and the Polish photographer Jan Bulhack.
"Alternative Attitudes". In themselves the use of soft-focus lens and the enriching of positives did not set the tune for trends in early-20th-century art photography. Rather did this derive from ideological affiliation. Many preferred pure photographic techniques without necessarily aping painting techniques. Assessed from the angle are the stylistic attitudes of photographers of different countries. Noted are the Hofmeisters, Theodor and Oskar, who despite their love of the romantic, are ensconced in the history of German photography as masters of the realistic trend. In Russia, an exponent of the democratic realist attitude was Sergei Lobovikov of the Urals city of Vyatka, today Kirov. The general conclusion is drawn that over the second half of the 19th century and at the beginning of this present, 20th century, photography as the first of the arts to exploit picture- taking techniques, gradually established itself in the cultural world both as documental recorder and as means of communicating visual information, especially via illustrated newspapers and magazines.
In the Mainstream of Modern Arts
Two Lines of Innovation
"Record of History". Traced against the background of the initial period of Soviet documental photography from the times of the October 1917 Revolution up to the early 1930s is the process of its integration, along with the oral and printed word, the poster and the film documentary, into the overall scheme of information and propaganda. Relieved of the canons of the fine arts, photographers mastered the arsenal of the reportage. Incorporated in the theory and practice of press photography was Lenin's definition of photography as publicistic imagery. The illustrations include Leniniana photos: portraits of the revolutionary leader and episodes from his life shot by Pyotr Otsup, Moisei Nappelbaum, et al. News photography reflected the tempo of socialist construction, along with the socialist repatterning of economy, farming and culture. Described are the social working-class photography of Germany from the 1920s up to the nazi usurpation of power in 1933, and the social photography of Czechoslovakia.
"The Poetry of the New Vision". Accounts are supplied of such noted Soviet innovators, among others, as Alexander Rodchenko and Boris Ignatovich. Expounded are the innovative concepts of László Moholy-Nagy, and Albert Renger-Patzsch, the photomontage of John Heartfield, and the new approaches of the Czech Jaromir Funke and the three Americans Ray Man, Edward Weston and Ansel Adams.
"Late-1930s Tradition and Innovation". Instances are culled from the creative careers of such noted Soviet press photographers, among others, as Max Alpert, Dmitry Debabov, Arkady Shaikhet and Ivan Shagin, to demonstrate the advances made in reportage and its link with realist painting and especially the art of socialist realism. Note is paid to the social photography of the mid-1930s in the USA, as represented by Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Arthur Rothstein and Paul Strand. Mention is made of the Frenchman Henri Cartier-Bresson and the Hungarian Brassaï.
"Fighting Fascism". This part is about news photographers at the fighting fronts. Named are war correspondents of the Allies. Their photographs which comprise part of the pictorial record of the Second World War, are reproduced. Likewise described is the gallantry of Soviet news photographers who in the frontlines shot pictures of the various stages of the war, known in the USSR as the Great Patriotic War of the Soviet people, from its outbreak in June 1941 up to V-Day of May 9, 1945. These photographic efforts symbolize the courage and heroism of the Soviet people. Soviet war-time documental photography keynoted the humanitarian aspect, reflecting real human emotion and concern for the lot of all fascist- enslaved nations.
"Humanitarian News Photography on the Rise". This part is devoted to the evolution of realist documentary photography and its advances in postwar times from the 1950s through the 1970s. Noted are the specific aspects of Italian realist photography from the 1950s on. Described are the efforts of the international Magnum Photos photo agency which Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and David Seymour founded in 1949. An appreciation is afforded of the work not only by Cartier-Bresson but also of the two Swiss, Werner Bischoff and Schuh, the Frenchman Robert Doisneau and the two Americans W. Eugene Smith and Gordon Parks. Considered are the concepts of "dynamic realism" and "decisive moment," and the transition to new approaches and methods in Soviet photography. Reportage is to be credited with having served to best spot and show every novel feature emerging in the pattern of social relationships, the continuity of tradition and the cultural advancement of the multinational Land of Soviets. Such masters in this field among others, as the earlier-mentioned Max
Alpert, Alexander Garanin, Vsevolod Tarasevich and Gennady Koposov are evaluated. With progressive photographers in different countries the camera serves humanitarian ideals. Postwar genre photography capably and worthily entrenched photography as an independent art in its own right. Still, the poetry of the pictorial record permits of the arrangement of genre scenes, while the application of the techniques of "dynamic realism" have become common enough in reportage-and-genre photography. The advances made in this realm in Soviet Lithuania (the Republican Art Photography Association) at the turn of the 1960s and 1970s well served to illustrate a broader psychological understanding of the possibilities of genre photography. There was now a preference for the static shot, with the emphasis on detail which at times set the psychological scene for sterling portrayal. Assessed, against the background of both Soyiet and foreign photography are the antitheses to the "decisive moment" principle, the dominating poetic note of which was far less in evidence towards the close of the 1970s. The trend now was away from the single shot as an aesthetically significant unit, towards photo series, photoessays and photobooks, in short towards what may be termed narrative photography. Underscored is the communication value of reportage-and-genre photography in its broadest sense and the role it plays in man's self- awareness, in cognition of the social environment, in international understanding across lands and continents.
"Action Reportage and News Portrait". Analysed is the pictorial recording of events, a genre far removed from the traditions of the fine arts. Highlighted is the significance of detail, which at times is capable of transforming an action photograph into a psychological shot. Shots of events are reproduced. Notice is paid to instances of photos of sports events and music performances. Singled out and evaluated is the genre of the news portrait with appropriate pictures by various photographers from different countries, such as Richard Avedon, Alexander Garanin, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Vsevolod Tarasevich, Isaak Tunkel, Philippe Halsman and Lev Sherstennikov, reproduced.
"The Photographic Exhibition – the New Cultural Highlight". A brief survey, is furnished of the various types of such exhibits-from those mounted at clubs, in honour of one photographer or dedicated to one definite theme or genre, to those of national and international status. The traditional Interpressfoto and World Press Photo expositions are described. A sociological appraisal is provided. Such exhibits emphasize concepts, styles and manners. There are expositions at which individuality on the part of the participating photographer is geared to the compiler's overall design concept, which implies that the latter is indeed sole author, from the angle of having integrated the different photographers into one composite whole.
Fact and Fancy
"Technically Reborn Traditions". Nonetheless, reportage-and-genre photography has failed to completely oust the techniques and styles of an art photography seeking to be at one with the fine arts. Styles are still borrowed from the arsenal of painting and the graphic arts. Indeed, by the 1980s these efforts made noticeable headway. Such aspects as the studio portrait and photographs of architecture, landscapes and still life are still circumscribed by the rules of construction on a two-dimensional plane that are entrenched in the realistic fine arts. The analysis afforded of the innovations enriching the respective traditional photographic techniques underscores the interaction of the different aspects. On the borderline with art are shots of the unknown elements, often invisible to the naked eye, of both micro- and macro-worlds. Cognition is taken of the multiplicity of form in both animate and inanimate nature. Such pictures are not infrequently viewed as metaphor and serve to engender poetic images. Like the cinema and television, photography per se is creating new genres that overshoot the confines of the plastic arts.
"Photo Graphics Style". Both professional and amateur continue the techniques and manner of the graphic artist. Noted are high-key and low-key techniques, such photographic processes that, while independent of the camera, are closely related to graphic art, such as the photogram, Sabbatier's effect, solarization and the relief image, oscillography, and "electronic graphics". Photo graphics is currently common in amateur art. Indicated is the classical technique of graphic arts in pictorial photo graphics; functionally justifiable is the application of the techniques of photo graphics in montage, collage, poster and advert, not infrequently in combination with a drawing by hand. Photo graphics is seeking to establish itself as a genre of the fine arts, although, in the author's view it has failed to demonstrate an underivative character. The conclusion is drawn that graphic art as a realm of the fine arts is incorporating the techniques of photo graphics; as for creative photography per se, photo graphics is yielding pride of place to the photographing of real life, which is the main designation of the art of photography.
"The Limitations of Metaphor". The continuity of metaphoric photography has been unbroken throughout the entire 150-year-old history of photography generally. In documentary photography the metaphor represents but one of the many means in the arsenal of artistic expression. Art photographers have free licence to translate fantasy into reality, to create an "imagined reality", a "new actuality". In this field too, as in photojournalism, manifest are both progressive and conservative tendencies consonant with materialistic or idealistic attitudes. Such is the conclusion to be arrived at from the trends of development in experimental, metaphoric, fantasized, subjectively-oriented photography between the 1950s and the 1970s, whatever the respective manner or style is called. Noted is the metaphoric character of genre sequences, a photographic technique that was rather widespread in the 1970s. Mentioned are metaphor-type pictures taken in varied styles by different authors, such as the Frenchman Catarino Roget, the Italian Felix Scherhenbauer, the American George Ulsmann, the Argentinian Pedro Raota, and the four Soviet masters, Vitalii Butyrin, Peter Tooming, Lev Tugalev and Vilgelm Mikhailovsky.
"Colour Photography". A survey is provided of the development of colour photography from the time Thomas Johann Seebeck obtained in Jena in 1810 images of spectral red and violet up to modern techniques employing wide colour reversal film. By the 1960s and 1970s colour photography was appreciated as much as black-and-white film in both the fine arts and the mass media, mostly in the printing industry. Once black-and-white photography made headway against argument and encroached upon the fine arts; today colour photography is taking over. The novel trend of holography looms on the horizon, indeed, is almost here. Soviet-made colour photographs are reproduced.
"The Nature of the Photographic Image". Photographic history knows of instances when circumstantial compendiums of aesthetic recommendations for constructing art photographs have been compiled. The respective criteria were lifted from the experience accumulated in the plastic arts, with, naturally, due account taken of photographic techniques. Art photography, whether black-and-white or colour – and implied here is the traditional concept – continues to proceed from such recommendations, however, already with an eye to the largely increased arsenal available of visual means of expression. In this case the nature of the artistic image is regarded from the aesthetic angle, for the most part, of realistic art. We have a different situation, though, in non-staged, action photography of a documental order. Quoted are the comments of the German scholar Z. Krockauer as to the tendency in this type of photography to "emphasize the non-deliberate, casual and unexpected", to convey "a sense of an unfinished endlessness derived by stressing the chance element". Noted are the associative motivations inducing the viewer to limn his or her own image when examining documentary photographs. Succeeding generations re-interpret in their own manner photographs of past events. Emerging is the phenomenon of the history genre in documentary photography. The information therein contained acquires image not necessarily akin to the impression that works in the fine arts produce. The image in documentary photography has come in for more intensive study in the 1960s and 1970s. It has served as a catalyst in its application to other documentary forms of art. Even in cases of a pronounced departure from the real thing art photography retains those signs of verisimilitude that are characteristic of the documentary. Often the process of the documentary's transformation into image derives from the typification of solitary photographically recorded phenomena. Commented upon are the many different ways in which documentary photographs may be understood. In studies of the magic mystery through which the recorded fact, the documentary transforms into image, it is aesthetics, however assisted by other disciplines that dominates. As for these other fields, in evaluating the processes of creating and comprehending the produce of photography's arch-communicative genres akin to journalism, one will necessarily proceed from certain precepts derived from information theory and semiotics. To demonstrate this point both Soviet and foreign authorities are quoted. Listed in conclusion are three possible approaches to an analysis of the form and content of photographic efforts, whether separate shots, series, sequences, photoessays or photobooks: 1) the traditional approach deriving from the historical experience amassed by the fine arts; 2) the semiotic approach considering the photographic image primarily in the context of the syntaxis of the language of photography, which thus enables one to spot the relationships between the signs and symbols in photographs; 3) the approach from the angle of information theory. In the process of day-to-day research and instruction all three methods may be combined. Meanwhile the very fact of the existence of various aspects of considering photographic creativity and photographs as such, indicates how firmly photography is ensconced in the composite of modern arts integrating with the mass communication media.