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The Communist Party
(Walker Evans, September 1934)
. . . in the U.S. has only 26,000 recognized members. But you have to add to that number half a million "sympathizers," half a dozen rival sects.
Walker Evans photographs The Communist Party in America      Walker Evan's contributions to Fortune's "The Communist Party " cannot be underestimated. Evans utilized a distinct style that accentuated details and composition while capturing the personal qualities of his subjects. His photographs (including this essay) have a strong personal feel. The documentary essay on the Communist Party contrasts Margaret Bourke-White's industrial photo essays, which were despised by her editor, Ralf Ingersoll. Ingersoll saw and admired the groundbreaking photographs of Dr. Erich Salomon in 1931. Evans had a style similar to Salomon, drawing on the same strengths of candidness and intimacy. "The Communist Party" required renditions of certain figures such as "The Key Men" and political rally leaders, but Evans has included tightly framed shots of common individuals as well. The body language of the campers in the first photograph of the essay suggests their intimacy and camaraderie. While the photograph of the young man with a shaved head does not add to the narrative of the article, his calm face displays an assurance and confidence that prevails among the other images in the essay.

The Communist Party in America      After World War II, Evans officially joined the Fortune staff. Between 1945 and 1960, Evans worked extensively on the magazine and even served as Special Photographic Editor. Fortune allowed its photographers much artistic license and its pages were filled with a greater variety of images under Evans (Sass). The development and ultimate use of humanistic, documentary photography was in publications other than Fortune--such as Evans and Agee's Let Us Now Praise Famous Men.

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