Politics Presentation Research and Notes

by alexmasonphotography


August Sanders photography was seen as somewhat controversial, as he took lots of his portraits during the power of the Nazi’s. He was taking photos of the less fortunate people in terms of their professions (mainly being working class people) like, a brick layer a pastry cook, Unlike these days where you would be more likely to see portraiture including good looking people or actors, however Sanders work is still talked about to this day because of it’s social value. August Sander work also includes portraits of individuals and small groups often show them in their working clothes and sometimes in theirwork environments, and are captioned by occupation – school-teacher, musician, student, farmer, peasant, baker, unemployed man… or sometimes by their relationships – twins, widower with sons. This caused political outrage and meant his work and social life were greatly constrained. The Nazi ideology stressed Aryan purity; Sander’s work showed the German nation to be cosmopolitan and extremely varied with few examples that fitted their model. This was perhaps one reason why they burnt Sander’s work, although he had also photographed many intellectuals and Jews. Although the Nazis banned the portraits in the 1930s because the subjects did not adhere to the ideal Aryan type, Sander continued to make photographs.

These photographers have been extracted from a body of work Sander did called ‘Man of the Twentieth Century’.

(Read from left to right in correspondence to the number)

1.  This grubby looking laborer is another typical example of the kinds of photos Sander would take. The subject staring directly into the lens and posed in a natural position. In all of the work in this body the portraits are taken on location in relation to each of the subjects.

2.I like how Sander has composed this portrait. The man has been posed with his possession being the bricks on his shoulders give us in instant message that this person is likely to be a bricklayer or a builder. The position he has his arms in suggest strength and the fact that he doesn’t look at all in pain suggests that it is just every day life for this man and that he has been doing it for years. The symmetry of the bricks helps to frame the subject.

3. It is great to see something that makes you feel happy in a photograph and this is exactly what this photo does for me. The big grin on the face of the man on the right alongside his rather feminine looking friend who looks more fit for ballet than boxing with the way his feet are positioned and his hair is kept.

Lewis Hine’s used his camera as a tool for social reform. These child labor photographs taken in the early 1900 can be related to August Sanders work in the sense that he has taken photos of the working class. Not only has Lewis Hine captured the working class but also he has photographed children in the workplace. Some children experienced 19 hour days with 1 hours break in extremely poor working conditions with dangerous machinery and cruel punishments for minor mistakes. Hines went on a crusade and travelled 12,000 miles photographing child labor and wanted it to have an impact within his work. Sometimes Hine would have to sneak into factories and secretly photograph the children whilst gathering their names and other key information because the managers didn’t want their crimes against children to be seen or get published.

Children as young as 5 would have been working, which is just isn’t heard of in our current society.

4. The papers are almost half the size of the child in this photo which to me just adds emphasis to the.

5. What I find interesting here is that, not only does this appear to be such a natural looking photograph but it also seems so natural for these boys to be working after they finish school at 3:15. I can’t tell whether they are genuinely happy about starting their shift or if they are just larking about because having a photo taken isn’t a regular occurrence for them, especially for the boy on the right who looks a bit older and has probably been working longer, it must be an exiting thing to have a photo taken if you know you are about to start working.

6. There are numerous group portraits of young workers standing in front of their place of work. The street being the place of work for the paperboys in the photo before. This 8 year old newsboy had just recovered from his second attack of pneumonia and was found selling newspapers in a big rainstorm.

Sebastio Selgado’s – “It’s not the photographer that makes the picture, it’s the person being photographed”

 What I love about Sebastio Selgado’s work is the incredible detail; tones and use of light, which goes against what Selgado wanted his viewers to appreciate “ I don’t want anyone to appreciate the light or the palette of tones. I want my pictures to inform, to provoke discussion – and to raise money.” However, Selgado’s work is incredibly graphic. Salgado will spend years on just one subject producing books of 300 to 400 images.

Here is an interesting extract of Salgado open mindedly talking about his work.

7. The young child wrapped up with a look of despair and helplessness. The mother wrapped up and her head slightly turned away with the light capturing her face. Just this photograph alone really describes the tragedy and the trauma of difficult times that people had to live with during the times of famine in Sudan. I find this to be a powerful haunting image due to the life threatening circumstance these people were facing.

8. This dramatic photo of firefighters battling to seal an oil well had a big impact on me. One of the first things I noticed was the shear desperation and distress in the body language.  The two different levels, the head tilting down of the man on the right just gives me the impression that he is just fed up. Their wet clothes almost make the men look like they are are statues to remember these times of hardship.

The work that I looked at of Marcus Bleasdale was taken in the Congo. It is the most recent work of the 4 photographers I have spoken about. Bleasdale referred to the place he was in as being transplanted into a village in plague-stricken medieval times. The children were scarey-eyed and brain damaged by mal nourishment. The Congo suffered terribly from the consequences of colonial rule. After 75 years under King Leopold’s colonial rule, the Belgians left very abruptly, relinquishing the political rights to the people of Congo in 1960. However, economic rights were not there for the country to flourish.

I have been looking through a book called ‘The Rape of a Nation’ and have found it difficult to look through. It had given me an insight to the shocking reality of the distress and torture that people have had to deal with.  The shocking thing is, is that people are so unaware that this has been going on and 5.4 million people have died in Congo since 1998 which is the largest death toll in the world since WWII. Still as an international community, we’re not doing enough to make it stop. This is what drives Marcus Bleasdale.

9. This photo denotes, what looks to me like a child soldier struggling to get onto a bike carrying an AK47.  Bleasdale has deliberately captured this moment at this time because I think he wanted to emphasize the age of the boy who is trying to climb onto the bike. I get the impression that he is looking dauntingly at the long road ahead and at the same time isn’t really sure what exactly is going to happen next. The tracks of tyre marks from cars give me an unsettling feeling knowing that the rival tribe could have created them. There are over 30,000 of these kids doing exactly the same as this one which Bleasdale wanted to make a note of in an interview I watched.

10. This child is being taken to another hospital because the one he was at before wasn’t safe enough to be at. It is a pretty shocking thought considering a hospital is a place where we associate with being safe and out of the way of danger. I like how Bleasdale has taken this at the same height as the subject.

11. Not only has Bleasdale put himself at risk and approached kids with guns, but he has also had a child point a gun at him and managed to compose this phenomenal photo with the correct depth of field to create this focus on the child’s face. Bleasdale got himself into situations where he has to put his hands behind his head and offer the people cigarettes in order to calm things down.


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