BrickHouse Photo School

Tips, Tricks and Reviews for Photo Hobbyists

Posts Tagged ‘photojournalism

The Great American Influence: Roy Stryker

leave a comment »

Roy Stryker may not be known for his camera work, but he is probably one of the most influential people in documentary photography.

Roy Stryker

Roy Stryker

Stryker, an economist by training, was the head of the Farm Security Administration’s Historical Section – a U.S. government department that was created during The New Deal. The FSA employed such noted documentary photographers as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, Gordon Parks and John Collier Jr. to name a few.

Born November 5, 1893 in Great Bend, Kansas, Stryker was the son of a farmer. He served in the infantry in World War I and when he returned home, he studied economics at Columbia University. He was asked to stay at the school once he graduated to teach economics with his mentor, Rexford Tugwell. The two collaborated on a book, “American Economic Life,” which used an extensive amount of photographs to highlight topics. Even in his lectures, Stryker used photographs from his collection to help bring a “real face” to the theories he was teaching.

Stryker followed his mentor to Washington D.C. as Tugwell was serving on President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Brain Trust. Tugwell was appointed as the head of the FSA and made Stryker the head of the Historical Section – the section appointed to document the FSAs initiatives.

Stryker assembled one of the greatest teams of documentary photographers with a single task: document the effects of the Great Depression on the people in the hardest hit areas of the United States.

Although not a photographer himself, Stryker understood the importance of photography as a tool to both document and to influence. With his work with the FSA, Stryker was a singular figure in building one of the greatest collections of documentary images in U.S. history.

Respecting Culture: Know the Rules Before You Go

leave a comment »

As a photojournalist, I have taken photos of situations in which it would normally be considered rude or insensitive to bring a camera: car accidents, shootings, funerals, wakes, etc. but it was part of the job. For the most part, my presence as a photojournalist was necessary – I was there to tell a story. More often than not, I was invited and discussed the arrangements with the family or the family’s representative. Photojournalists have a code of ethics in which the majority of us hold dear. But what about tourists? Should we, when on vacation, hold ourselves to a code of ethics?

Even though I was on assignment and invited to a public dance in Gallup, I still asked the permission of the dancers to make a photograph. A little common courtesy goes a long way. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Even though I was on assignment and invited to a public dance in Gallup, I still asked the permission of the dancers to make a photograph. A little common courtesy goes a long way. (Photo Credit: Jeremy W. Schneider)

Yes. I believe we need to be culturally sensitive no matter where we are or whatever the purpose of our photography happens to be.

Take for example the Zuni Tribe who live in the Pueblo of Zuni along the western edge of New Mexico. I worked as a photojournalist in New Mexico and had several opportunities to go to the Pueblo of Zuni for various events. Surrounded by the large Navajo Nation, the Zuni Pueblo is a small, beautiful area away from the nearest city of any size, Gallup.

I would drive down, photograph my assignment, and return to Gallup to edit photos but after a few trip down to Zuni I began to notice the tourists. For the most, they were respectful of the residents of Zuni Pueblo (remember, it’s not a museum, it’s a community just like any other) but there were a few who were, quite simply, very pushy.

So I asked a friend of mine, who was raised in Zuni Pueblo but lived and worked in Gallup, about the tourists. The stories he told, although humorous at times, were shocking. My favorite is a how a lady walked up to his home, opened the door, peered in while he and his brother were playing video games and said “What? Video games? This is supposed to be a REAL Indian village.”

Now, most of us aren’t quite that, ummm, clueless, but there are those who break the rules to some degree or another.

The Zuni Tourism office even has a posting on its Website on how to visit the Pueblo and be respectful. One of the more important – and possibly overlooked – rules is the photography rule posted clearly on the Website:

“Consider capturing visual memories instead of photographs! Assume that ALL “cultural” activities within the Pueblo are off-limits to photograph, video or audio record or sketch unless specifically informed otherwise. Always inquire first and ask permission before photographing any activity involving people. NO photography is permitted of images inside the Old Mission.”

Does this mean you shouldn’t visit Zuni Pueblo? No. Of course not. It’s important, however, to remember to be aware of the social norms of the area.

Just as you would consider it rude for strangers to walk into your church, temple or mosque and take pictures, so too is it rude to photograph the religious and/or cultural activities of another groups’ way of life.

Another example would be that of the Old Order Amish who live mainly in Pennsylvania and Ohio. For the most part, their religious beliefs forbid them to own a photograph or pose for a photograph and they wish to not be photographed. I have, however, seen tourists clicking away even after they have been asked to stop.

If you’re ever asked to stop taking a photo, please respect the rights of the person whom you are photographing. ALWAYS ask permission first if possible. ALWAYS check with tourism offices when traveling to an area that is outside of what you’re used to. If there’s no tourism board, then follow the instructions on signs. A camera isn’t a license to do whatever you want whenever you want. It’s a tool to make memories, preserve emotions and convey a message so convey the message of sensitivity by NOT making photos when it’s inappropriate.

Photographers You Should Know: Alfred Eisenstaedt

leave a comment »

Information for this article was collected from Art Scene California

Photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt is known as the “father of modern photojournalism” and was one of the most prolific candid photographers of the 20th Century.

‘V-J Day in Times Square,’ is one of Eisenstaedt’s most famous photographs. The image was made August 14, 1945 in Times Square, New York City. (Photo Credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt, via Life Magazine)

‘V-J Day in Times Square,’ is one of Eisenstaedt’s most famous photographs. The image was made August 14, 1945 in Times Square, New York City. (Photo Credit: Alfred Eisenstaedt, via Life Magazine)

The German-born photographer was born in 1898 and started photography at the age of 14 with an Eastman Kodak Folding Camera. In 1927, at the age of 29, he sold his first photograph and in 1928 he began working for Pacific and Atlantic Photo’s Berlin office as a freelance photographer.

By 1935, Eisenstaedt migrated to the United States and in 1936, he became a founding staff photographer for Life Magazine.

He believed in using relatively little equipment in order to be as unobtrusive as possible. Near the end of his career, Eisenstaedt said, “My style hasn’t changed much in all these sixty years. I still use, most of the time, existing light and try not to push people around. I have to be as much a diplomat as a photographer. People often don’t take me seriously because I carry so little equipment and make so little fuss. When I married in 1949, my wife asked me. ‘But where are your real cameras?’ I never carried a lot of equipment. My motto has always been, ‘Keep it simple.’”