photo essay 3 - 1 Tricia Mittman Photobook Paper Through...

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Tricia Mittman Photobook Paper Through the study of photography, and subsequently photobooks, one begins to experience the beauty and complexity involved in creating a photobook. Photographers have all sorts of motives for expressing themselves creatively, perhaps to record the world as they know it, or change others perceptions of the world. Such an example is Robert Frank’s The Americans , an 83-image series of photographs relaying American life as Robert Frank saw it in the 1950s. In the creation of his book, Frank looked to his predecessors for inspiration, namely Walker Evans, Margaret White, and Henri Cartier- Bresson. These photographers’ work, especially Evans’ photobook American Photographs , shaped Frank’s concept of a culturally influential photobook. Through the study of The Americans it is evident that Frank used four main ideas to represent the United States from his point of view. By focusing his documentation on types of American life, apparent racism, the ‘American Dream’, and the repetitiveness of American flags, Frank was able to depict America for the rest of the world to view through his photography. Robert Frank was born in 1924 in Zurich, Switzerland to a wealthy Jewish family during the time of the World Wars. A divided Europe created huge crisis for European Jews, however throughout the era Switzerland remained neutral, creating a safe haven for refugees. Frank’s family was extremely fortunate that they did not face the oppression that so many Jews went through. However, the surrounding violence was prevalent and Frank was undoubtedly affected by the atrocities and their effects on the Jewish people. He learned of the harshness of oppression at an early age and learned to express his 1
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emotions creatively through photography, leading to a lifetime of artistic success. Frank trained under professional photographers and created his first book in Switzerland at age 22. Soon after, he immigrated to the U.S. to further his passion, and secured a job as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar . Shortly after, he journeyed to South America and Europe, arriving back in 1950 having created two photo books documenting his travels. He stayed in New York and continued photographing for magazines such as Fortune and Vogue . His freelance work gained considerable recognition, and in 1954, he applied for a Guggenheim fellowship to create “a record of what an observant naturalized American finds and sees in the United States.” He received the grant with help from his mentor Walker Evans, and began this new work. The result of this venture was the acclaimed photobook, The Americans . It gained considerable recognition as a result of creative practices Frank implemented throughout its creation. “The Photobook”, an article by Martin Parr and Gerry Badger, highlights the different dimensions of photobooks and their relation to the art culture and society as a whole. The article touches heavily on the difference between displaying photographs in
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This note was uploaded on 02/13/2011 for the course COMM 211 taught by Professor Traubaut during the Spring '08 term at University of Michigan.

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photo essay 3 - 1 Tricia Mittman Photobook Paper Through...

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