On Monday this week I referenced an article in Atlantic Monthly which asked, ‘What Was the Most Influential Photograph in History?’
I was unimpressed by the choices of the professional photographers in the article. Perhaps I’m overly critical in that their choices could have had some influence, though I don’t know how much. Maybe, it’s the wrong question, for I don’t think a single photo, on its own, can have that much influence.
Anyway, I said I’d make my choice of a supposed influential photo. It’s taken me the rest of the week to think about it, and perhaps I was influenced by one of the photos in the article. I hope I wasn’t.
It’s a photo, taken during the 1969 Apollo 11 mission by mission commander Neil Armstrong of fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin walking on the Moon by the lunar lander. There are many such photos of the Apollo 11 mission. This is the one I prefer. It has it all, Astronaut on the moon, astronaut footprints, reflection in the visor, and the leg of the lunar lander.
A truly staggering achievement.
Bit of a change in focus for my 42nd Photo of the Week.
It’s the earliest known photograph of a person. Taken by photography pioneer Louis Daguerre in 1838, from his studio, of a Parisian street, the Boulevard du Temple.
That the photo appears to be empty of people, horses, or moving traffic, is the result of the need for an exposure lasting several minutes. Their presences therefore were not recorded in the image, just two men, a boot polisher and his customer, seen near the bottom right corner.
The Independent’s article, This is the first ever photograph of a human – and how the scene it was taken in looks today, provides more information on the photograph.
Seventy seven year ago, almost to the day, Daily Mail staff photographer, Herbert Mason, took this now famous image while on fire-watching duty.
I know someone, who was young at the time – obviously, who saw a similar view of St Paul’s Cathedral surrounded by smoke and flames after an air raid.
The story of Herbert Mason’s taking of the photo, and the deliberations as to whether to publish it, is discussed in detail in Max Hastings’s article in the Daily Mail, and in an article in the Amateur Photographer.
It needed a photographer’s eye to wait until the clouds of smoke cleared for the iconic vision to appear. Mason said of his taking the scene,
‘I focused at intervals as the great dome loomed up through the smoke. The glare of many fires and sweeping clouds of smoke kept hiding the shape. Then a wind sprang up. Suddenly, the shining cross, dome and towers stood out like a symbol in the inferno. The scene was unbelievable. In that moment or two, I released my shutter.’
This photo of the week is only my fourth portrait photograph. Previous ones have been of I.K.Brunel, W.G.Grace, and Winston Churchill by Karsh in December 1941 [number 21 in my series].
This week’s photo, Audrey Hepburn by Bill Avery in 1953 is my first proper studio portrait photo, and of course it has to be a Hollywood film studio shot.
Portrait photography is as much of an art as news photography, or photo-journalism, possibly the more so in the difficulty of trying to capture that illusive character of the sitter.
Bill Avery 1917 -2002 learned his skills working for Columbia Pictures, and after wartime service as a war photographer returned to work for the major film studios. Most studio photos are done for promotional purposes. Attempting to capture the character of an actor, within the confines of a PR brief, requires skill. I think Avery caught, both her beauty, and naturalness. Hope you agree.
How splendid to be able to post a Photo of the week by a photographer that I know.
Daan Olivier’s photo is of a clashing returning wave during Storm Brian, photographed at Newhaven, on 21st October 2017 at 1408 hrs.
Why so precise? Well, Daan reckons that luck, in photography, derives from precise preparation. To prepare for the photo of Clashing Wave, Daan tells me he studied the tide tables at Newhaven, also the wave action of the Clapotis Gaufre wave type. Now, don’t tell me it’s all luck. There’s an element of luck, but preparation is all.
Wikipedia describe Clapotis Gaufre as,
When a wave train strikes a wall at an oblique angle, the reflected wave train departs at the supplementay angle causing a cross hatched wave pattern known as the clapotis gaufré (“waffled clapotis”). In this situation, the individual crests formed at the intersection of the incident and reflected wave train crests move parallel to the structure.
This is a terrific sports action photo of Jackie Stewart followed by Graham Hill at the Nürburgring, 1966, by an unnamed photographer. Formula 1 racing cars don’t ‘fly’ now, and nor do they race on the Nürburgring.
There’s an interesting discussion on who’s the best racing driver in history. The BBC questions can we ever really compare the F1 greats?
I think the simple answer is that’s extremely difficult to make a judgement, because of the changes in motor racing technology. There were great racing drivers in different eras. Perhaps we should leave it like that, and respect the talent of the best drivers in their time.
This is the third Robert Doisneau to appear in my Photo of the Week series. I’ve written previously about Doisneau staying true to his principles of capturing street culture, and his photo-journalistic approach.
The Wikipedia entry for Doisneau has this quote of his,
The marvels of daily life are so exciting; no movie director can arrange the unexpected that you find in the street. — Robert Doisneau
The quotation is appropriate to this photo, entitled Two brothers, Rue Marcellin Berthelot, Paris, 1945. I particularly like the two angles in the photo, the slant from left to right, and the low down angle from which the photo is taken. I also like the affection that the older brother has for his younger brother. A cracking photo.