Welcome to another instalment of Monday Masters. I’m happy to notice that our weekly educational and inspirational challenge is growing little by little. We have a new member Paul Carmody joining us this week which means he got to nominate the Master. He chose the legendary photographer – Paul Strand.
Paul Strand (1890-1976) was a hugely influential American photographer and film maker whose images have defined the way fine art and documentary photography is understood and practiced today.
A Paul Strand exhibition curator Martin Barnes explains the photographer’s impact on the world of photography:
“Strand is an important figure in the history of photography, not only because his career spanned much of the last century, but because he relentlessly trialled and pioneered myriad photographic approaches, subjects and technologies. His drive for seeing what he and the camera could do was unrivalled; pictures that he made have established their own genres. All kinds of photographers have been following in his footsteps for years, sometimes without knowing it.”
Connection to street photography
While reading about Strand’s earlier work and experimentation with street portraiture, I’ve realised that he was probably one of the first people to shoot candid street portraits of strangers. He did it with the help of the hidden lens on his camera.
“I felt that one could get a quality of being through the fact that the person did not know he was being photographed … [and I wanted to capture] these people within an environment which they themselves had chosen to be in, or were in anyway”
Later on he would change his approach and be open to interact and ask people to pose for the pictures. I chose the photo below as one of my favourite images of Strand.
Apart from years of practice, I think a photographer has to give or share some part of his soul in order to make an unbelievable portrait. He has to be vulnerable and sacrifice so that the person in front of the camera can repay him with that magical connection. In my opinion, Strand achieved that connection with his portraits. There’s an incredible sense of humanity and rawness. You can’t help but keep looking…
“I’ve always wanted to be aware of what’s going on around me, and I’ve wanted to use photography as an instrument of research into and reporting on the life of my own time”
Additional articles on Paul Strand:
- “I posed for Paul Strand”
- “Timeline of Art History”
- “Paul Strand – photographer; detailed biography”
What is your take on Paul Strand’s work? Do you have a favourite photo or a book recommendation? Share it in the comments or on Social Media using #Mondaymasters and don’t forget to check out everyone else’s posts!
Thank you for reading, stay curious and never stop learning! Till next time