I’m going to try an experiment I’m calling “Photo of the Day,” wherein I post a photo I’ve come across and fallen in love with. I’m hoping it stimulates my not leaving this blog idle for so long. It will only work, however, if people view the photo and the brief blurb on its background. It should be less analysis than promotion, but with as little hyperbole as possible.
Please, however, don’t tell me I “took a Great Photo.” These will be works by masters of the art, which I am not one. It’s disheartening when one writes a post and “readers” only view the photo in their WordPress reader. Please don’t be that guy.
This photo is one of a set taken by the great Swiss photographer, Robert Frank, in 1958. During the 50s, Frank was busy turning the photographic world on its ear by taking photos that were stark, emotional, gritty rather than lovely, casual instead of staged, and horizontal in a vertical magazine world. In 1958, the same year The Americans was published, a book consisting of 0.3% of the 27,000+ photos he took for the work, he took a series of shots from the confines of a bus window, titled, cleverly, “From the Bus.” The above shot is my favorite of the set.
A man runs across the street, his motion blurred in contrast to the stillness of the metal buses. He’s reduced to a silhouette by the blaring, white background light of the evening sun. Frank is leaning his camera out of the window, perfectly putting us simultaneously inside and outside the bus. All is light and shadows, black and white, inside and out. We see our bus and the bus passing us gleaming like a metal whale in the city ocean, and somehow we see ourselves pass by. Frank photographs what he sees and what passersby on the pavement would see of him. It is, like most of Frank’s work, a photo of himself, but wrapped, as they all were, in the fabric of the mutely emotional world around him.
It is brilliance, and art, and Frank likely would reject either label.
For more from this set, see ASX (American Suburbx) here.