“These photographs are very different from Cartier-Bresson’s as they are theatrical performances rather than decisive moments. Brassaï’s subjects are not only aware of the photographer, they collaborate with him. Brassaï’s unique style gave Paris de nuit its distinctive intimacy and led to its huge public success.” Image and text taken from Meltzer, S (2014) The piercing eye of Brassai: the stunning work of a master French photographer, Available at: http://www.imaging-resource.com/news/2014/01/07/the-piercing-eye-of-brassai-a-brief-history-of-a-master-photographer (Accessed: 22/03/2017).
I have come across the work of Brassai before and I feel this collection of Paris By Night embraces something new in photography for the age and that being night-time photography. He appears to have intimate relationships with the buildings, areas and the people in his images. He is not distant as was Cartier-Bresson he appears to know the subjects well and having read much about him, I believe some of his subjects were well-known to him.
He was influenced, apparently, by an outbreak of cholera, which seems unusual these days, but was a common occurrence during his lifetime of 1812-1887. He was a great social reformer and he wrote many articles on the poor and was criticised heavily by the right-wing press of the time. It’s nice to see something never change.
Image of Abraham Lincoln taken from Morgan, K (2004) Matthew Brady, Available at: http://www.mathewbrady.com(Accessed: 22/03/2017).
His work was very interesting and he was the first photographer to record the American Civil War. The pose above is a very stable photograph giving off an aura of power and self-confidence, with interest being added by the desk to the right hand of the president.
His photographs of camp life during the Civil War, were interesting as it was clear from them how the different classes of people were treated and how black people were shockingly dealt with and treated in that period too. The officers’ photographs were given great prominence and there surrounding matched their ranks, where as a photograph of a black cook, shows rubbish and other detritus at his feet and is in stark contrast to the images containing the white officers.
Reflection of the above three people.
Brassai’s storytelling methodology is very different to that of Brady, but then the developments in the art were significant in the two different ages of photography researched here. Both used posed images, but the context of the narrative is very different in approach. Brady’s images are daytime, maybe due to technological issues, where as Brassai uses the cloak of darkness to emphasise the mood in his images. Brassai’s images for me, create a feeling of movement and being in the scene, where as Brady’s images make me feel I am looking at a photograph and I am not party to the scene but merely an observer. The context of the images of both artists can easily be read, but what is excluded from the frame in Brassai’s images make me think more deeply about the setting than Brady’s. Brady’s images show a gulf in classes between different subjects, where as Brassai’s subjects all seem to be night people.