Depression Magazines Photo Essay Photojournalist Fortune Home Page Communism Strikebreaking Wards Wool

Cover of the first issue, February 1931 A CASE FOR PHOTOGRAPHY:   The pages of Fortune magazine during the Depression Crisis (roughly 1931 to 1941) are lavished with photographs that yield a history of business, economy, and identity in America. Fortune's creator, Henry Robinson Luce, chose a combination of photography and prose to publicly present the timeless power of business in America through the new medium. Luce's emphasis on photography was central to the remaking of the American image that his magazine aimed to accomplish. As Luce desired, Fortune's photographs are beautiful, lavish, and romantic, and the expensive magazine carried an authoritative air. What ideals did these images create, and what were the elements that made these images so powerful? Considering the conventions of photography, magazines, and business during the Depression years will bring us to an understanding of the particular power of photography as it worked to define American images in photographic essays and in documentary representations of American business.

Contents SITE MAP:   The navigation bar at the top of the page links to each of the eight main pages through four titles and four images. For a narrative and explanation of the role of Henry Robinson Luce's Fortune during the period 1931-1941, proceed through the main contents of the site, beginning with the introduction below and moving sequentially through topics listed to the left of the title image. This site will first set the stage of the Depression era, when business, photography, and idealism were understood in a certain way. It will then argue that Fortune conditioned its photographic and textual approach in order to please its elite businessman readership. Afterwards the argument discusses the various photographic essays in Fortune, and the resulting ideology of the publication. This analytical material is supplemented by examples of photographic essays. To peruse the four main examples of Fortune's photographic essays between 1935 and 1936, choose any of the images on the home page or to the right of the title image, or begin with the first ("The Communist Party ") and move forward chronologically. The four main essays were chosen from within a short period of time to best show the conversations between Fortune and the nation. Many essays display the entire essay layout, while other essays selected images out of the text for better viewing. To view a larger version of the Contents page, click on the image below and to the left. Similarly, to see a larger version of linked images and an analysis of their function, select the image and a separate window will appear. Pop-up windows that hold a series of images are internally linked; click the image to continue or to close at the end of the sequence. In all windows, titles and captions are from the magazine and are rendered in white.

NEXT: Capitalism and the Depression