part six: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
Evans photographs begin the book. There are over 50 images--mostly
one picture to a page. There are no quotations, or captions--just
images of the three tenant families, and their houses, possessions,
etc... James Curtis writes: "Evans believed his photographs were
self-explanatory; the presence of words implied that the image
was somehow deficient." Keeping the images separate from Agee's
text brought more recognition to the images themselves, and it was a
total break from the trends of photo-journalism, which used images
to illustrate text.
The images are quintessential of Evans' "documentary style"; Evans'
dis-interested approach to these families resulted in portraying
them with dignity and strength, although they lived in complete
poverty. He sought to show the beauty of order and respectability
within such an impoverished condition. Thus, many of the photographs
are posed portraits, often made with the 8x10 view camera. You will
notice, as well, as was pointed out before in
part four: Evans' Images, Evans' use of objects, as well as interior and
exterior(architectural) shots, which were all components of his strategy
to build a comprehensive documentary work.
at times Evans used his Leica(35mm),a small format camera, he did
not take "snapshots" of daily activites; he despised
that journalistic approach. Evans kept
his images, as usual, in sharp, hard-focus, and also varied his
focal length--sometimes up close, other times, wide-angle.
of the book referred to the "naked realism which is the truth
as Walker Evans' camera eye sees it."
The effect is one of confrontation with the reader--not with Evans,
but with the tenant-farming families themselves. In this regard Evans became
the visual translator of these people to the rest of the alienated
American public. In so doing, and in conjunction with his work for
the FSA, Evans revolutionized the concept of documentary photography.
That is, he artfully removed himself from the equation. His objective style
brought the viewer into confrontation with the subject, with no
hint of subjective authoritarian influence. These images are
the best example of that fact, and accordingly were the hallmark
images for which Evans became known.
I hope you will spend time looking at these images. Try not
to flip through them quickly. Take a minute and digest them.
I have not included all of them,(go buy the book, if you want)
but most are here:Evans' Photographs for Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
Go Back to Other Photographers of the FSAOR
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