Posts Tagged ‘history of photography’

Reporters Associés

Saturday, May 23rd, 2020

The Eye of Photography has just published a series of articles by Louis Le Roux (in English translation) about the Paris photo agency Reporters Associés, founded in 1953. Le Roux joined them as a lab worker a few months later and eventually became the head of the agency, one of first generation which pioneered the “French photojournalism” of the second part of the 20th century, serving the rise of magazines such as Paris Match, Stern, Jours de France…

In part one of the five part series he brings to life some of the problems of working at the time, starting with a primitive darkroom around the same size as my own boxroom darkroom at home, and with the same lack of facilities, without running water or sink, though in a much grander house on Avenue Frochot.  

The second part looks in detail at Lova de Vaysse, real name was Vladimir-Lev Rychkoff-Taroussky (1921- 1983), the boss of the agency.

Part 3, The Fifties of the Rolleiflex, looks at the change from the press cameras using glass plates to film-based photography and some of the reportages carried out by the agency as well as giving some details about materials and storage of negatives and prints.

The fourth part of the series looks at the Agency’s peak in the 1960s when it covered all major events and a rapid change to 35mm took place, at first with Leicas and then Pentax, Canon and Nikon SLRs. While the square format of the Rollei meant that virtually all images were cropped in the darkroom, Le Roux comments “There will be less and less need to crop photos. The framing will be done directly by the photographers thanks to the change of lens. Besides, photographers don’t really like having their shots cropped.” And finally the agency got a proper modern darkroom and had to begin to cope with the move to colour.

In the final part Le Roux talks about some of the photographers who worked with the agency in the 1960s, and about the loss of their contract with Stern. Many of the best photographers were leaving to join newer agencies such as Gamma, and Le Roux, seeing the agency had no future he resigned. Two months later it was bankrupt.

It’s a well illustrated insider’s story into a period of great change in photojournalism, and well worth reading.


My London Diary : London Photos : Hull : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage : Flickr


Steiglitz Key Set

Saturday, June 8th, 2019

NGA ONLINE EDITIONS ::  ALFRED STIEGLITZ KEY SET

Back in 2002, the US National Gallery of Art published the massive two-volume ‘Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set – Volume I & II: The Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs‘ by Sarah Greenough, 1012 pages lavishly printed and weighing over 18 lbs, presenting the complete set of 1,642 photographs of his work, selected after his death in 1946 by his wife, the painter Georgia O’Keeffe who devoted three years of her life to sorting out the best examples of each of the finished and mounted prints in his possession when he died.

O’Keeffe presented the bulk of this work to the NGA in 1949, adding most of the rest, including well over 300 portraits of herself in 1980 which had previously only been on loan. There are several versions of many of the works, sometimes in different media and in some cases quite differently cropped and sometimes made over many years.

The book was a truly fine publication, heavily subsidised by generous donors, but in many respects the recent online presentation is preferable. Certainly the search facility is a great addition, as is the ability to zoom in on pictures, particularly for those of us whose eyesight is a little less sharp than it once was. And you can mark several pictures to compare them together on screen.

Those large and heavy paper volumes are also just a little difficult to handle, while the on-line presentation is excellent, enabling you to page easily through the pictures in order should you wish to, zooming in to them or scrolling down on the page to read more about them (they make use of the open source IIPMooViewer – you can read more about this should you be interested in a case study about the NGA on the IIPImage site.) The site seems to work remarkable quickly on my internet connection and you can also download the pages as PDFs should you wish to do so.

Of course the quality of reproduction of the online version will depend on the device you view this on, and your phone may not display them quite as well as a large calibrated monitor. But even more than the book, this is an enormous and fascinating work of scholarship.

Stieglitz remains one of the most important figures in the history of our medium, a major player as a photographer both in pictorialism and the move away from this to modernism and straight photography, as a photographer and also as an editor and curator. He was a prime mover in establishing photography as art and promoted the work of a number of photographers and painters through Camera Work magazine and his galleries, though it was only quite a few years after his death that an art market for photography came into being. He sold very few of his own images, and most of those in museum collections came like those at the NGA, from donations either by himself orafter his death by O’Keefe.

Despite the superiority of the online version, there is still something about the print version which I prefer, and it can still be bought on Amazon and elsewhere, with both new and secondhand copies on offer, but at a price. The cheapest I found in a very brief search, including shipping to the UK is around £170, though some dealers are asking up to £600. When I bought my copy I think I paid less than some are now charging for shipping.