Harold Feinstein - Coney Island Teenagers - 1949
Since the first time I saw this image, I felt completely moved by it. I don't know much of the context of the picture, but all I can think is about the Beatniks. The image was taken at Coney Island in 1949, the hometown of Harold Feinstein, and it might look like a snapshot, but is not. It is a candid portrait taken to strangers. It's amazing sharpness, and its beautiful naturality is what makes the image for me.
Even though there is a very crowded scene, the attention goes directly to the girl in the scene, and then it makes a smooth spin round through the whole image. For me, she is the marker that tells us an approximate about the moment in time this picture was made. The image is composed with deep aesthetics, and a very pleasing point of view, that ironically, makes the image really natural. The girl, the smiling young man, the singer, the man functioning as a pillow, and the guys hugging at the back. The whole scene makes me smile.
Garry Winogrand - Central Park Zoo New York - 1967
It is no secret that this image touched various nerves in society (from both sides of the political context in terms of racism in the 60's). For me, the image is a complete masterpiece of street photography, was very little is under the photographer's control. We have a very elegant couple, which had definitely raised some looks from the crowd on those days, holding a pair of monkeys dressed as children.
The image is great, and for me, the best things about its composition are the following:
- The chimpanzees dressed and also with amazingly human gestures, looking with discontent to the viewer, that is watching them.
- The notorious shadow of Garry Winogrand shows extreme proximity, which is something I personally love in street photography.
- The crowd at the background minding their own business.
- The kid at the right corner has something very similar with the monkeys.
- The elegance of both woman and man in the shot.
There are also more shots of this scene, and it is worth the effort in order to find them.
Sally Mann - Candy Cigarette - 1992
Sally Mann body of work is splendid for me, because she has taken family intimacy to the most sublime state one could possibly imagine. She has portrayed her family since her early work, and this portrait for me is amazing thanks to the strong character portrayed by her daughter holding the candy cigarette. Then, our eyes got caught by her second daughter with an authoritarian gesture looking at the back, to Sally Mann's son on top of some sort of stilts.
When a photograph has been composed with the "rule of odds", there is an appealing aesthetic in the image, and even though the picture was taken with a square format, thanks to the three subjects, and the obvious point of interest, the image doesn't feel caged at all. I just love this image.
Josef Koudelka - Prague, August 1968
This is one of my favorite images taken in Black and White format. It can be defined as very simple, but thanks to its symbolism, it is absolutely powerful. He took this image at the exact moment Prague was invaded by the Warsaw Pact military forces. The watch is the perfect evidence of the moment in time this tragic happening occurred. The lone streets behind this foreground object, give us big idea of the general feeling of the city at that time. The small portion of the sky enhances the feeling of the oppression about to come to Prague.
Henri Cartier Bresson - Rue Mouffetard, Paris - 1954
The great Master of Street Photography has a vast numerous of iconic pictures that have inspired many others into various disciplines of Art. For me, this picture, showing an undoubtedly happy and proud boy carrying two bottles of wine, is a splendid masterpiece of Photography.
The joyful expression of the kid, walking next to a building in a street of Paris, is absolutely priceless. The kid is the foreground interest of the image, and at the background, we have two layers of happenings. The first, a couple of girls, almost like celebrating the kid's attitude, and at the furthest, an old lady coming down the street.
He created the concept of the decisive moment, and there has been a lot said about this particular topic of Street Photography, and for me, this image summarizes the whole thing.
Hans Gutmann - Marina Ginestà - 1936
The photographer of this beautiful portrait, is not much of a famous as the others, and is just the evidence that great images can come from anywhere. The girl in the picture is Marina Ginestà of the Juventudes Comunistas, aged 17, overlooking Barcelona during the Spanish Civil War, and her portrait still transmits that indefinable passion of youth, in just one frame.
Arnold Newman - Stravinsky in New York - 1946
The original shot taken by Arnold Newman, portrays a serene Stravinsky ling close to a piano in front of a two shaded wall. The famous crop shows an innovative, bold and minimalistic approach, juxtaposing a serene portrait, with a massive negative double negative space of the wall and the upper door of the piano in flat black. The curious thing about the crop is that it emphasizes a notorious triangle in the composition, as well as a metaphor of music, thanks to the shape of the piano's door.
I want to reduce this to the most important essence of Black and White photography for me. Nowadays, we have the choice of having final images in both colors, and monochrome, in fact, the color version is native in cameras, and black and white is a procedure achieved in post-production.
Almost all images have the opportunity, of looking great in black and white, but not all of them necessarily need to be black and white. There are some splendid shots that certainly look better in color. The most important thing about Black and White Photography for me is that it reduces the distractions and the unappealing aesthetics of certain colors that don't get along in the most pleasant form.
If you see that an image looks better after a simple black and white conversion, the amount of time tweaking its tones, cropping and contrast, will definitely be worth the effort, if not, a simple white balance tweak will give your native color shot, an amazing look, in line with the message you want to transmit.