About Chris Hunt


Chris Hunt is a fashion and advertising photographer, based in New York, Los Angeles and Mexico City. Originally from California, he has spent the last 15 years living and working in Europe, Asia, Latin America, Moscow and across the United States. Beginning his career as a photojournalist, Chris then moved into fashion photography after working as a model agent for several years in L.A. He has recently broadened his portfolio into film, directing TV commercials for fashion and lifestyle brands. Chris balances outstanding creative talent with an impressive level of technical expertise, delivering impeccable professionalism and work of the highest quality with a relaxed and friendly attitude. On the rare moments he is not in his studio, Chris can be found pedaling his road bike through Italy, SCUBA diving in the South Pacific or riding a motocross bike in the mountains of California. His advertising clients include Google, TELCEL, Mitsubishi Automobiles, Pond's, Samsung, GNC, Chevrolet, Knorr and Garnier. He also works for fashion and beauty clients such as BCBG Max Azria, Herve Leger, Forever 21, bebe, ALDO, Nine West, Macy's, GAP, Banana Republic, Wet Seal, Arden B., Jockey International, Avon, Liverpool, Skechers, Fox Girls, Billabong, Stila Cosmetics and C&A. His work has been published in international magazines including VOGUE, Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen, Interview, Maxim, Surface, Men's Health, Nylon and InStyle. High profile clients include sports stars Maria Sharapova and Wayne Gretzky and rappers Ludacris, Ice Cube and 50 Cent.

Posts by Chris Hunt:

Debunking the Myths of Robert Capa on D-Day

Debunking the Myths of Robert Capa on D-Day

I want to give you a brief overview of an investigation that began almost five years ago, led by me but involving the efforts of photojournalist J. Ross Baughman, photo historian Rob McElroy, and ex-infantryman and amateur military historian Charles Herrick.

Our project, in a nutshell, dismantles the 74-year-old myth of Robert Capa’s actions on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and the subsequent fate of his negatives. If you have even a passing familiarity with the history of photojournalism, or simply an awareness of twentieth-century cultural history on both sides of the Atlantic, you’ve surely heard the story; it’s been repeated hundreds, possibly thousands of times:

Robert Capa landed on Omaha Beach with the first wave of assault troops at 0630 on the morning of June 6, 1944 (D-Day), on freelance assignment from LIFE magazine.

He stayed there for 90 minutes, until he either inexplicably ran out of film or his camera jammed.

During that time he made somewhere between 72 and 144 35mm b&w exposures of the Allied invasion of Normandy on Kodak Super-XX film.

Upon landing back in England the next day, he sent all his film via courier to assistant picture editor John Morris at LIFE’s London office, instead of delivering it in person.

This shipment included pre-invasion reportage of the troops boarding and crossing the English Channel, the just-mentioned coverage of the battle on Omaha Beach, and images of medics tending to the wounded on the return trip.

When the film finally arrived, around 9 p.m., the head of LIFE’s London darkroom, one “Braddy” Bradshaw, inexplicably assigned the task of developing these crucial four rolls of 35mm Omaha Beach images to one of the least experienced members of his staff, 15-year-old “darkroom lad” Denis Banks.

After successfully processing the 35mm films, in his haste to help Morris meet the looming deadline Banks absentmindedly closed the doors of the darkroom’s film-drying cabinet, which inexplicably were “normally kept open.” Inexplicably, nobody noticed that Banks had closed them.

As a result, after “just a few minutes,” that enclosed space with a small electric heating coil on its floor inexplicably became so drastically overheated that it melted the emulsion of Capa’s 35mm negatives.

Notified of this by the horrified Banks, Morris rushed to the darkroom, discovering that eleven of Capa’s negatives had survived, which he “saved” or “salvaged,” and which proved just sufficient enough to fulfill this crucial assignment to the satisfaction of LIFE’s New York editors.

That darkroom catastrophe blurred slightly the remaining negatives, “ironically” adding to their expressiveness. Furthermore, as a result of the overheating, the emulsion on those eleven negatives inexplicably slid a few millimeters sideways on their acetate backing, resulting in a visible intrusion of the film’s sprocket holes into the image area.

Robert Capa, D-Day images from Omaha Beach, contact sheet, screenshot from TIME video (May 29, 2014), annotated.

That standard narrative constitutes photojournalism’s most potent and durable myth. From it springs the image of the intrepid photojournalist as heroic loner, risking all to bear witness for humanity, yet at the mercy of corporate forces that, by cynical choice or sheer ineptitude, can in an instant erase from the historical record the only traces of a crucial passage in world events.

Jean-David Morvan and Séverine Tréfouël, “Omaha Beach on D-Day” (2015), cover

Moreover, it represents, arguably, the most widely familiar bit of folklore in the history of the medium of photography — one that appears not only in histories of photography and photojournalism, in biographies of and other books about Capa, but in novels, graphic novels, the autobiographies of such famous people as actress Ingrid Bergman and Hollywood director Sam Fuller, assorted films, and even in videos of Steven Spielberg talking about his inspirations for the opening scenes of his film Saving Private Ryan, not to mention countless retellings in the mass media.

Charles Christian Wertenbaker, “Invasion!” (1944), cover

An early version of this story started to circulate immediately after D-Day, made its first half-formed appearance in print in the fall of 1944, and received its full formal authorization with the publication of Capa’s heavily fictionalized memoir, Slightly Out of Focus, in the fall of 1947. Since then it’s been reiterated endlessly, either by John Morris or by others quoting or paraphrasing Capa’s or Morris’s version of the tale. It gets retold in the mass media with special frequency on every major celebration of D-Day — the 50th anniversary, the 60th, most recently the 70th. In short, it has gradually achieved the status of legend. That this legend went unexamined for seven decades serves as a measure of its appeal not just to photojournalists, to others involved professionally with photography, and to the medium’s growing audience, but to the general public.

For 70 years, despite the many glaring holes in it, no one questioned this story — least of all those in charge at the International Center of Photography, which houses the Capa Archive. These figures have included the late Cornell Capa, Robert’s younger brother and founder of ICP; the late Richard Whelan, Robert’s authorized biographer and the first curator of that archive; and Whelan’s successor in that curatorial role, Cynthia Young.

Ironically, two celebrations of the 70th anniversary of Capa’s D-Day images provoked our investigation. The first came as a flattering profile of John Morris, written by Marie Brenner for Vanity Fair magazine. Morris served as assistant picture editor in LIFE’s London bureau for that magazine’s D-Day coverage, and in this Brenner piece he recounts his version of the Capa-LIFE D-Day myth once more. Shortly thereafter, on May 29, 2014, TIME Inc. — the corporation that had commissioned and published Capa’s D-Day images back in 1944 — posted a video at its website celebrating those photographs, which some refer to as “the magnificent eleven.”

A division of Magnum Photos, the picture agency Capa founded with his colleagues in 1947 (the same year he published his memoir), produced that video for TIME. The International Center of Photography licensed the use of Capa’s images for that purpose. And none other than John Morris, by then 97 years old and living in Paris, provided the voice-over, his boilerplate narrative of those events. In short, this video involved the combined energies of the individual and institutional forces involved in the creation and propagation of this myth — what I came to define as the Capa Consortium.

The Capa Consortium, Keynote slide, © 2015 by A. D. Coleman

Assorted elements of those two virtually identical versions of the standard story, Brenner’s and Time Inc.’s, struck J. Ross Baughman as illogical and implausible. The youngest photojournalist ever to win a Pulitzer Prize (in 1978, at the age of 24), Baughman is an experienced combat photographer who has worked in war zones in the Middle East, El Salvador, Rhodesia, and elsewhere. As the founder of the picture agency Visions, which specialized in such work, he’s also an experienced picture editor. Ross contacted me to ask if I would publish his analysis at my blog, Photocritic International, as a Guest Post. I agreed.

In the editorial process of fact-checking and sourcing Baughman’s skeptical response to the standard narrative provided by Morris in that video, my own bulls**t detector began to sound the alarm. I realized that Baughman’s critique raised more questions than it answered, requiring much more research and writing than I could reasonably request from him. I decided to pursue those issues further myself.

This immersed me in the Capa literature for the first time. Speaking as a scholar, that came as a rude awakening. The most immediate shock hit as I read through a half-dozen print and web versions of Morris’s account of those events — in Brenner’s 2014 puff piece, in Morris’s 1998 memoir, and in various interviews, profiles, and articles — and watched at least as many online videos and films featuring Morris rehashing this tale. I realized that the only portion of this story that Morris claimed to have witnessed firsthand, the loss of Capa’s films in LIFE’s London darkroom, could not possibly have happened the way he said it did.

In retrospect, I cannot understand how so many people in the field, working photographers among them, accepted uncritically the unlikely, unprecedented story, concocted by Morris, of Capa’s 35mm Kodak Super-XX film emulsion melting in a film-drying cabinet on the night of June 7, 1944.

Anyone familiar with analog photographic materials and normal darkroom practice worldwide must consider this fabulation incredible on its face. Coil heaters in wooden film-drying cabinets circa 1944 did not ever produce high levels of heat; black & white film emulsions of that time did not melt even after brief exposure to high heat; and the doors of film-drying cabinets are normally kept closed, not open, since the primary function of such cabinets is to prevent dust from adhering to the sticky emulsion of wet film.

No one with darkroom experience could have come up with this notion; only someone entirely ignorant of photographic materials and processes — like Morris — could have imagined it. Embarrassingly, none of that set my own alarm bells ringing until I started to fact-check the article by Baughman that initiated this project, close to fifty years after I first read that fable in Capa’s memoir.

This is one of several big lies permeating the literature on Robert Capa. Certainly Capa knew it was untrue when he published it in his memoir; he had gotten his start in photography as a darkroom assistant in Simon Guttmann’s Dephot photo agency in Berlin. And Cornell Capa also knew that; he had cut his eyeteeth in the medium first by developing the films of his brother, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and David Seymour in Paris, then by working in the darkroom of the Pix photo agency in New York, then by moving on to fill the same role at LIFE magazine before becoming a photographer in his own right. My belated recognition of that fact led me to ask the obvious next question: If that didn’t happen to Capa’s 35mm D-Day films, what did? And if all these people were willing to lie about this, what were they covering up?

So, building on Baughman’s initial provocation, I began drafting my own extensions of what he’d initiated — and our investigation was launched.

In December of 2017 I published the 74th chapter of our research project. You’ll find all of it online at my blog; the easiest way to get to the Capa D-Day material is by using the url capadday.com. During these years I have become intimately familiar with a large chunk of what others have written and said about Capa and his D-Day coverage.

In my opinion, the bulk of the published writing and presentations in other formats (films, videos, exhibitions) devoted to the life and work of photojournalist Robert Capa qualifies as hagiography, not scholarship. Capa’s own account of his World War II experiences, Slightly Out of Focus, consistently proves itself inaccurate and unreliable, masking its sly self-aggrandizement with wry humor and self-deprecation. Morris’s memoir repeats Capa’s combat stories unquestioningly, adding to those his own dubious saga of the “ruined” negatives.

Richard Whelan, “This Is War! Robert Capa at Work” (2007), cover

Richard Whelan’s books, widely considered the key reference works on Capa, simply quote or paraphrase Capa and Morris uncritically, perhaps because they were sponsored, subsidized, published, and endorsed most prominently and extensively by the estate of Robert Capa and the Fund for Concerned Photography (both controlled by Capa’s younger brother Cornell) and the International Center of Photography, founded by Cornell, who also served as ICP’s first director.

Produced in most other cases under Cornell’s watchful eye or the supervision of one or another participant in the Capa Consortium, the remainder of the serious, scholarly literature on Robert Capa has almost all been subject to Cornell’s approval and reliant on either the problematic principal reference works or on Robert Capa materials stored in Cornell’s private home in Manhattan, with access dependent on his consent. Consequently, it constitutes an inherently limited corpus of contaminated research, fatally corrupted by its unswerving allegiance to both its patron and its patron saint. Such bespoke scholarship becomes automatically suspect.

Cornell Capa, interview with Barbaralee Diamonstein, 1980, screenshot

The second failing of this heap of compromised materials resides in its reliance on untrustworthy and far from neutral sources: Robert Capa, with a demonstrated penchant for self-mythification; his younger brother Cornell, a classic “art widower” with every reason to enhance his brother’s reputation; and Robert’s close friend and Cornell’s, John Morris, whose own stature in the field premises itself on the Capa D-Day legend. Only Alex Kershaw’s unauthorized Capa biography, Blood and Champagne, published in 2002, maintains its independence from Cornell’s influence, but at the cost of losing access to the primary research materials and consequently reiterating the erroneous information in the accounts of Capa, Morris, and Whelan. Virtually everything else published about Capa, including those stories in the mass media that appear predictably every five years along with celebrations of D-Day, unquestioningly presents the prevailing myth.

This Capa literature suffers from a third fundamental flaw: Those generating it (with the exception of Capa himself and his brother Cornell), have no direct, hands-on knowledge of photographic production, no military background (significant in that Robert Capa’s most important work falls under the heading of combat photography), and no forensic skills pertinent to the analysis of photographic materials. Nor were they encouraged by their patron, Cornell Capa, to make up for those deficiencies by involving others with those competencies in their projects. Instead, their privileged relationship to the primary materials, along with the availability of a prominent and well-funded platform at ICP, enabled them to effectively invent whatever suited them, pleased their benefactor, and served their purposes.

Responsible Capa scholarship, therefore, must begin by distrusting the extant literature, turning instead to the photographs themselves and relevant documents that the Capa estate and ICP do not control and to which they therefore cannot prohibit access. Those materials lie at the core of our research project.

Here’s a short summary of what we’ve found:

Capa sailed across the English Channel on the U.S.S. Samuel Chase.

According to the official history of the U.S. Coast Guard, fifteen waves of LCVPs (commonly called Higgins boats) carrying troops left the U.S.S. Samuel Chase for Omaha Beach that morning. Capa almost certainly rode in with Col. Taylor and his staff, the command group of Company E of the 16th Infantry Regiment, U.S. 1st Division, to which Capa had been assigned. They constituted part of the thirteenth wave.

That wave arrived at the Easy Red sector of Omaha Beach at 8:15, a half hour after the last of the 16th Infantry Regiment’s nine rifle companies. We can see from Capa’s images that numerous waves of troops preceded them.

Using distinctive landmarks visible in Capa’s photos, Charles Herrick has pinpointed exactly where Capa landed on Easy Red: the beach at Colleville-sur-Mer. Gap Assault Team 10 had charge of the obstacles in that sector. An existing exit off this sector made it possible to reach the top of the bluffs with relative ease. Col. Taylor would become famous for announcing to the hesitant troops he found there, “Two kinds of people are staying on this beach, the dead and those who are going to die — now let’s get the hell out of here,” and urging them up the Colleville-sur-Mer draw to the bluffs.

Robert Capa, CS frame 4, neg. 32, detail, annotated

Fortuitously, that stretch of Easy Red represented a seam in the German defenses, a weak point at the far end of the effective range of two widely separated German blockhouses. Both cannon fire and small-arms fire there proved relatively light — one reason for the success of Gap Assault Team 10 in clearing obstacles in that area. This explains why, contrary to LIFE’s captions and Capa’s later narrative, his images show no carnage, no floating bodies and body parts, no discarded equipment, and no bullet or shell splashes. This also explains why the Allies broke through early at that very point.

Capa did not run out of film, nor did his camera jam, nor did seawater damage either his cameras or his film. In his memoir, Capa first implies that he exposed at most two full rolls of 35mm film — one roll in each of his two Contax II rangefinder cameras, 72 frames in all — at Omaha Beach. By the end of that chapter, this has somehow grown to “one hundred and six pictures in all, [of which] only eight were salvaged.” John Morris claims he received 4 rolls of Omaha Beach negatives from Capa. We find no reason to believe that Capa made more than the ten 35mm images of which we have physical evidence.

Capa made the first five of those images while standing for almost two minutes on the ramp of the landing craft that brought him there. In them we see Capa’s traveling companions carrying not small-arms assault weapons but bulky oilskin-wrapped bundles, most likely radios and other supplies for the command post they meant to establish.

Capa made his sixth exposure from behind a mined iron “hedgehog,” one of many such obstacles protecting what Nazi Gen. Erwin Rommel called the “Atlantic Wall.” He made his last four exposures — including “The Face in the Surf” — from behind Armored Assault Vehicle 10, which was sitting in the surf shelling the gun emplacements on the bluffs.

Capa described Armored Assault Vehicle 10, which appears on the left-hand side of several of his images, as “one of our half-burnt amphibious tanks.” In fact, it was a modified American tank, a “wading Sherman,” not amphibious (merely waterproofed to the top of its treads) and not burnt out; later images made by others of that stretch of Easy Red show this tank undamaged, closer to the dry beach, and apparently in action. Taken in conjunction with the known presence at that point of Gap Assault Team 10, the large numeral 10 on this vehicle’s rear vent suggests that it was a so-called “tank dozer,” one of which landed with each demolition team that morning. The U.S. Army had modified these tanks by adding detachable bulldozer “blades,” so that they could clear the debris after the engineers blew up the obstacles.

Not incidentally, both the time and place of Capa’s arrival on Easy Red contradict the current identification of Huston “Hu” Riley as “The Face in the Surf” in Capa’s penultimate exposure on Easy Red, as well as the earlier identification of “The Face in the Surf” as Pfc. Edward J. Regan. Both these soldiers arrived at different times than Capa, and on different sections of the beach. Thus the identity of “The Face in the Surf” remains unknown.

After no more than 30 minutes on the beach, and perhaps as little as 15 minutes there, Capa ran to a landing craft, LCI(L)-94, where he took shelter before its departure around 0900.

Capa claimed that he reached the dry beach and then experienced a panic attack, causing him to escape from the combat zone. We must consider the possibility that he suffered from what they then called “shell shock” and we now call post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). But we must also consider the possibility that, even before setting forth that morning, Capa made a calculated decision to leave the battlefield at the first opportunity, in order to get his films to London in time to make the deadline for LIFE’s next issue; if he missed that deadline, any images of the landing would become old news and his effort and risks in making them would have been for naught.

No fewer than four witnesses place Capa on this vessel, LCI(L)-94. The first three were crew members Charles Jarreau, Clifford W. Lewis, and Victor Haboush. According to Capa, once he reached LCI(L)-94 he put away his Contax II, working thenceforth only with his Rolleiflex. One of the 2–1/4″ images he made while aboard this vessel, published in the D-Day feature story in LIFE, shows Haboush assisting a medic treating a casualty.

Robert Capa, “Untitled (Medics at Omaha Beach, June 6, 1944).” Annotated screenshot from magnumphotos.com. Victor Haboush indicated by red arrow.

The fourth witness to Capa’s presence on LCI(L)-94 was U.S. Coast Guard Chief Photographer’s Mate David T. Ruley. Ruley, a Coast Guard cinematographer assigned to film the invasion from the vantage point of this vessel, coincidentally documented its arrival at the very same spot at which Capa landed, recording the same scene from a perspective slightly different from Capa’s at approximately the same time Capa made his ten exposures.

Robert Capa, “The Face in the Surf” (l); David Ruley, frame from D-Day film (r)

Ruley’s color footage appears frequently in D-Day documentaries. Charles Herrick and I verified that these film clips described conditions at that same sector of Easy Red while Capa was there. Ruley’s name on his slateboard at the start of several clips enabled us to learn a bit more about him and his assignment.

Robert Capa, center rear, aboard LCVP from USS Samuel Chase, with camera during transfer of casualty, D-Day, frame from film by David T. Ruley

Most importantly, this resulted in the discovery of brief glimpses of Capa himself, holding Ruley’s slateboard in one scene and photographing the offloading of a casualty from LCI(L)-94 to another vessel in the second clip. These are the only known film or still images of Capa on D-Day, the only film images of him in any combat situation, and among the few known color film clips of him.

Robert Capa holding cinematographer’s slate aboard LCI(L)-94, D-Day, frame from film by David T. Ruley
Cinematographer David T. Ruley, illustrations for first-person account of D-Day experiences, Movie Makers magazine, 6/1/45

By noon the battle there was largely over, and Capa had missed most of it.

He made the return trip to England aboard the U.S.S. Samuel Chase.

Arriving back in Weymouth on the morning of June 7, Capa had to wait for the offloading of wounded from the Chase before he got ashore sometime around 1 p.m. He sent all his film via courier to picture editor John Morris at LIFE’s London office, instead of carrying it himself to ensure its safe delivery and thus enable Morris to face with confidence the imminent, absolute deadline of 9 a.m. on June 8.

As a result, Capa’s films did not reach the London office till 9 p.m. that night, putting Morris and the darkroom staff in crisis mode.

Capa’s shipment included substantial pre-invasion reportage of the troops boarding and crossing the English Channel, his skimpy coverage of the battle on Omaha Beach, and several images of the beach seen from a distance, made while departing on LCI(L)-94, as well as photos of medics tending to the wounded on the return trip aboard the Chase.

In addition to several rolls of 120 film, and a few 4×5″ negatives made on shipboard with a borrowed Speed Graphic, Capa sent Morris at least five rolls of 35mm film, and possibly a sixth.

These include two rolls made while boarding and on deck in the daytime, two more of a below-decks briefing, a (missing) roll of images made on deck at twilight during the crossing, and the ten Omaha Beach exposures, plus four sheets of sketchy handwritten caption notes.

All of these films — including all of Capa’s Omaha Beach negatives — got processed normally, without incident. The surviving negatives, housed in the Capa Archive at ICP, show no sign of heat damage. Thus no darkroom disaster occurred, no D-Day images got lost … and none got “saved” or “salvaged.”

In his memoir, Capa wrote that by the time he got back to Omaha Beach on June 8 and joined his press corps colleagues, “I had been reported dead by a sergeant who had seen my body floating on the water with my cameras around my neck. I had been missing for forty-eight hours, my death had become official, and my obituaries had just been released by the censor.” No correspondent has ever corroborated that story. No such obituary ever saw print (as it surely would have), no copy thereof has ever surfaced, and no record of it exists in the censors’ logs. Purest fiction, meant for the silver screen.

So much for the myth.

We learned a few other things along the way:

LIFE magazine ran the best five of Capa’s ten 35mm Omaha Beach images in the D-Day issue, datelined June 19, 1944, which hit the newsstands on June 12. (The other five were all mediocre variants of the ones they published.)

“Beachheads of Normandy,” LIFE magazine feature on D-Day with Robert Capa photos, June 19, 1944, p. 25 (detail)

The accompanying story claimed that “As he waded out to get aboard [LCI(L)-94, Capa’s] cameras got thoroughly soaked. By some miracle, one of them was not too badly damaged and he was able to keep making pictures.” That wasn’t true, of course. Capa returned immediately to Normandy, landing back there on June 8 and continuing to use the same undamaged equipment with which he’d started out.

No sheet of caption notes for Capa’s ten Omaha Beach images in Capa’s own hand exists in the International Center of Photography’s Capa Archive. Presumably he provided none. Morris himself must have provided some — drafted hastily on the night of June 7 — for both the set that he sent to LIFE and the set that he provided to the press pool; that was required of him by his employer and by the pool. As for the captions that appeared with Capa’s pictures in the June 19 issue, Richard Whelan writes, “Dennis Flanagan, the assistant associate editor who wrote the captions and text that accompanied Capa’s images in LIFE, recalls that he depended on the New York Times for background information, and for specifics he interpreted what he saw in the photographs.”

Thus the wildly inaccurate captions that (to use Roland Barthes’s term) “anchor” Capa’s images in LIFE’s D-Day issue, and on which most subsequent republications of these images rely, either got revised from John Morris’s last-minute inventions in London or written entirely from scratch by someone in the New York office, even further removed from the action.

LIFE’s captions indicated that the soldiers seen gathered around the obstacles were hiding from enemy fire. That was also untrue. Instead, we discovered that their insignias identify them as members of Combined Demolitions Unit 10, part of the Engineer Special Task Force, busy at their assigned task of blowing up the obstacles planted in the surf by the Germans in order to clear lanes for the incoming landing craft, so that they could deposit more troops and materiel on the beachhead.

Robert Capa, D-Day negative 35, detail, annotated

The demolition team that cleared this section of Omaha Beach, Easy Red, had more success than all the other demolition teams combined. In many ways, they saved the day for the Allies — at a high cost: these engineers as a group suffered the highest casualty rate of any class of troops on Omaha Beach. Capa’s failure to provide caption notes for these exposures resulted in 70 years of misidentification of these heroic engineers as terrified assault troops pinned down and hiding behind those “hedgehogs.”

We learned that ICP had a habit of obstructing any research into the life and work of Robert Capa that did not conform to Cornell Capa’s and Richard Whelan’s censorious requirements. ICP refused to allow British military historian Alex Kershaw to access any of the materials in the Capa Archive, and refused to grant his publishers permission to reproduce any Capa images in his unauthorized biography, published in 2002. ICP also refused to allow French documentary filmmaker Patrick Jeudy to use any of the primary Capa materials they controlled in his remarkable 2004 film, Robert Capa, l’homme qui voulait croire à sa légende (“Robert Capa: The Man Who Believed His Own Legend”). Upon the film’s release, Cornell Capa persuaded John Morris to sue Jeudy in France, in an unsuccessful attempt to block its distribution.

Robert Capa, “ruined” frames from D-Day, June 6, 1944. Courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

We also discovered that TIME Inc. had authorized the creation of unlabelled digital fakes of Capa’s supposedly “ruined” and discarded Omaha Beach negatives, for insertion into that May 2014 video commissioned from Magnum in Motion, the multimedia division of Magnum Photos, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Our disclosure of this deception forced TIME to acknowledge the fakery and revise that video overnight.

Richard Whelan, “Robert Capa: In Love and War” (2003), screenshot

Finally, we discovered that Capa’s authorized biographer, the late Richard Whelan, lied outright about the emulsion sliding on Capa’s D-Day negatives (among other things). And Cynthia Young, his successor as curator of the Capa Archive at the International Center of Photography, not only repeated his lie but plagiarized it in a 2013 text of her own.

Cynthia Young, “The Story Behind Robert Capa’s Pictures of D-Day,” June 6, 2013, screenshot from ICP website 2014–06–12 at 11.38.23 AM

Many of Capa’s rolls of film from the 1940s — and not just those he made on D-Day — show the exposure overlapping the sprocket holes. This resulted from a mismatch between Kodak 35mm film cassettes and the design of the Contax II, the camera Capa used that day, and not from any damage to the films.

Top: Contax camera loaded with shorter Kodak cassette showing sprocket holes being exposed. Bottom: Capa negative shown with proper orientation as it would have appeared in the camera. Note exposed sprocket holes. Top photo © 2015 by Rob McElroy.

Since the Capa Archive at ICP houses all those negatives and their contact sheets, both Whelan and Young have known this all along. Given the official position that first Whelan and now Young have occupied at ICP, they are de facto the world’s foremost authorities on Robert Capa. As such they represent, with regrettable accuracy, the deplorable condition of Capa scholarship in our time.

Cynthia Young, “Morning Joe,” MSNBC, 6–13–14, screenshot

The myth of Capa’s D-Day and the fate of his Omaha Beach negatives falls apart as soon as one compares its narrative to the military documentation of that epic battle. It collapses entirely when one examines closely the physical evidence — those photographs and their negatives.

The promulgation of that myth by the Capa Consortium, all of whose members have a vested financial and public-relations interest in furthering the myth, has proved itself calculated, systematic, duplicitous, and self-serving. Its voluntary dissemination by others, including reputable scholars and journalists, has shown those authors as lazy, careless, and professionally irresponsible. The Capa D-Day myth serves as a classic example of the genesis and evolution of a falsified version of history that, with its emphasis on the exploits of individual actors, distracts us from paying attention to the machinations of the corporate structures through which information must pass and get filtered before reaching the public — powerful institutions with agendas of their own.

I would like to think we have made a sufficiently convincing case that no one can credibly tell the standard Capa D-Day story again, at least not without acknowledging our contrary narrative. After all, our investigation forced a reluctant John Morris, the most energetic and vocal proponent of the legend, to recant its central components on Christiane Amanpour’s CNN show in the fall of 2014.

Most recently, in a Lensblog piece published in the New York Times on December 6, 2016 — just a day before his 100th birthday, and months before his death in Paris in July 2017 — Morris once again admitted that he’d never actually seen any heat-damaged 35mm negatives; that Capa may have only made the ten surviving images; and that he may have stayed on Omaha Beach only long enough to make them.

As for the institutions involved in perpetuating the myth: On June 6, 2016, ICP published this post on the institution’s Facebook page: “During the D-Day landing at Omaha beach, Robert Capa shot four rolls of 35mm film — only 11 frames survived. By accident, a darkroom worker in London ruined the majority of the film.” Since then, grudgingly, as a result of my public prodding, ICP has begun at last to make available to researchers the papers of Cornell Capa, promising to also permit access sometime in the near future to the papers of Richard Whelan, along with the Jozefa Stuart interviews from the early 1960s on which Whelan based much of his work.

Yet, as recently as October 2018, Cynthia Young published this statement in a special issue of the French newspaper Le Monde: “Capa, surrounded by explosions of bombs and bursts of machine guns, took photos in the water for a short while. … He expected his films to have been damaged by the water — he was squatting in the sea, troubled and agitated, tinged with blood. A few weeks later, he learned that all but ten images had been destroyed in the darkroom or during the shooting.” (My translation — A.D.C.).

Cynthia Young, “Les deux icônes de Capa,” Le Monde Hors-Série, 50 images qui ont marquél’histoire, October 2018, pp. 78–79

So there’s more work to be done on this subject. For the time being, our investigation has drawn to a close. In this country, though the Society of Professional Journalists honored our team with the 2014 Sigma Delta Chi Award for Research About Journalism, our work has received little attention, aside from a feature article in the official journal of the National Press Photographers Association, an article so rife with conflict of interest that the watchdog website iMediaEthics published a lengthy dissection of it. We have had better luck abroad; the project went viral in France in the summer of 2015, resulting in extensive coverage there in major periodicals and TV stations, as well as responses in Spain, Italy, the U.K., Brazil, and elsewhere.

Vincent Lavoie, L’Affaire Capa. Le procès d’une icône, 2017

I take heart from the fact that the two most recent books on Capa respond in different ways to our investigation. One, a graphic novel by Florent Silloray, published originally in France and now available in English, is (so far as I know) the only book on Capa of any kind to omit entirely the story of the darkroom disaster in London. The other, a meditation by French-Canadian Vincent Lavoie on the challenges to Capa’s 1937 “Falling Soldier” image, concludes with what its author and publisher must have felt was an obligatory commentary on our parallel research.

It took 70 years and the collaborative energies of powerful institutions and individuals to embed this fable in our cultural consciousness. Clearly, we still have much work to do if we hope to dislodge this fiction from the mythology of photojournalism and photo history — not to mention the larger D-Day myth into which it has become so thoroughly woven. But at least that process has begun — just in time for the 75th anniversary of D-Day, coming up in June 2019.

With minor revisions, this is the complete text of a lecture delivered on Friday, March 2, 2018 at the Society for Photographic Education 55th Annual Conference at the Marriott Hotel in Philadelphia, PA.) Its first English-language publication was in Exposure, the journal of the society.

About the author: A. D. Coleman has published 8 books and more than 2500 essays on photography and related subjects. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. Formerly a columnist for the Village Voice, the New York Times, and the New York Observer, Coleman has contributed to ARTnews, Art On Paper, Technology Review, Juliet Art Magazine (Italy), European Photography (Germany), La Fotografia (Spain), and Art Today (China). His work has been translated into 21 languages and published in 31 countries. In 2002 he received the Culture Prize of the German Photographic Society, the first critic of photography ever so honored. In 2010 he received the J Dudley Johnston Award from the Royal Photographic Society (U.K.) for “sustained excellence in writing about photography.” In 2014 he received the Society for Photographic Education’s Insight Award for lifetime contribution to the field, and in 2015 the Society of Professional Journalists SDX Award for Research About Journalism. Coleman’s widely read blog “Photocritic International” appears at photocritic.com.

Source: PetaPixel

Debunking the Myths of Robert Capa on D-Day

Nick Knight’s Glam Slam for Maison Margiela

Nick Knight’s Glam Slam for Maison Margiela
‘Reality Inverse’ is a short film a visual conversation between creative director John Galliano and photographer Nick Knight that is set to debut at the Serpentine Gallery in London. The film offers it’s viewers a unique, technicolor experience which marks a new chapter in the evolving language of Maison Margiela and connects it to the elements and philosophies established at the fashion house through recent collections, especially focusing on the technological age. With bright, neon hues and…

Keep on reading: Nick Knight’s Glam Slam for Maison Margiela
Source: V Magazine

Nick Knight’s Glam Slam for Maison Margiela

Spring Place x COYA Brought The Heat This NYFW

Spring Place x COYA Brought The Heat This NYFW
Spring Place took us on a vacation to Peru–well, sort of. The exclusive, members-only club invited COYA, the highly-awarded Latin American restaurant, to take over its NYC space for fashion week. COYA crafted a dining experience as immersive as it was loyal to its Peruvian heritage. New Yorkers were able to experience COYA’s unique Incan-inspired menu. Three highlights from their offerings that had been specifically curated for this partnership included Ceviche de Atún Chifa, Arroz Nikkei and…

Keep on reading: Spring Place x COYA Brought The Heat This NYFW
Source: V Magazine

Spring Place x COYA Brought The Heat This NYFW

How to Save 100,000 Cameras: A Look Inside Camera Rescue

How to Save 100,000 Cameras: A Look Inside Camera Rescue

Camera Rescue is a project based in Finland that’s working to rescue 100,000 analog cameras by 2020 in order to preserve them for future generations. Photographer Jordan Lockhart of Cameraville recently traveled to Tampere, Finland, and made this 10.5-minute behind-the-scenes video at the organization’s ambitious endeavor.

Lockhart sat down with Camera Rescue core team member Juho Leppänen to talk about what his organization is doing.

In “rescuing” a camera, Camera Rescue finds film cameras that are broken or out of use, repairs them, and returns them to the market for a second chance at life. At the time of this writing, a counter on the project’s homepage shows that it has rescued 46,641 cameras in this way thus far.

One of the biggest challenges faced by Camera Rescue is the lack of qualified camera repair technicians, so they’re putting large efforts toward teaching the younger generation the skills of fixing cameras so that they’re not lost as current technicians age and retire.

And regarding larger issues facing the film photography industry as a whole, Camera Rescue believes there are three things that need to be addressed: (1) there needs to be newly designed mechanical shutters, (2) there needs to be new scanner technology in both hardware and software, and (3) there needs to be new automated film development machines for C-41, B&W, and E6 to keep the barrier of entry low for newcomers.

“[W]e are just getting started,” Camera Rescue writes. “From one to thousands at a time, we rescue cameras from any time period old or new, working or broken. Trade in your old or unwanted camera equipment for cash, and help us with our goal of rescuing 100,000 cameras by 2020.”

Source: PetaPixel

How to Save 100,000 Cameras: A Look Inside Camera Rescue

If Iconic Space Photos Had Been Shot with a Smartphone Camera…

If Iconic Space Photos Had Been Shot with a Smartphone Camera…

What would iconic space probe photos of celestial bodies in our solar system look like if they had been shot with an ordinary smartphone camera? Astronomer Scott Manley made this 12.5-minute video that explains the answer, which is: “not much.”

The beautiful photos of planets and moons that you’ve seen were captured with specialized cameras on spacecraft that are much more like telescopes than like iPhone cameras.

For example, in August 2015, NASA shared a beautiful photo of the Moon passing in front of Earth that was captured by the camera on its DSCOVR Earth observation satellite.

But this photo was captured from a mind-boggling distance of nearly a million miles from Earth.

“The field of view of your typical everyday camera that you would find in a smartphone is about 60 degrees,” Manley says. “The camera onboard the DSCOVR spacecraft is called EPIC and it has a field of view of less than one degree. And of course that field of view is optimized because it’s designed to look at the Earth and little else.”

Manley shows various examples of the large distances famous shots were actually taken at using NASA’s Eyes on the Solar System, a free app that “lets you explore the planets, their moons, asteroids, comets and the spacecraft exploring them from 1950 to 2050.”

“This project started out as an idea to take classic, famous images from space history and try and redesign them, reframe them so that they would have the same look as if they were taken with an iPhone,” Manley says. “But I very quickly realized that the field of view of most cameras mounted on spacecraft was so tiny, so minuscule that what we would really be left with was a tiny small disc of light suspended in a giant black background.”

Source: PetaPixel

If Iconic Space Photos Had Been Shot with a Smartphone Camera…

12 Things I Learned While Teaching Street Photography

12 Things I Learned While Teaching Street Photography

For a while now I have been working on establishing myself as a street photography educator by leading lessons and workshops throughout London, focusing on documenting human behavior and emotion rather than more new-wave techniques involving light-architecture and intricate technical compositions.

My most recent workshop, held over the second weekend of February involved a very diverse group of students, which posed some of the most interesting challenges I’ve faced so far. I thought it would be useful to share some of the things I was dealing with while teaching in order to offer some insight into street photography as an educational vocation as well as an artistic and sociological pursuit.

1. Slow down, in every way.

One of my most common instructions to a group will be to slow down, not only in the way that they walk around but also in the way they treat their gear and the people around them. Our course lasts for three days, and we spend the majority of the first and second out shooting. Many students fear they will miss a moment due to being too far, or not being somewhere fast enough.

The way I see it is that every action you make is a judgment between one location or another, one character or another, or one camera action and another. There will always be another shot, and especially when treating street photography as a hobby rather than needing to sell prints as a livelihood, for example, you will almost always be far more rewarded from the results of a slower approach than a fast one.

The exercises and assignments we set in the course will go over a specific approach again and again, and we insist that even after the course is over the students continue to practice different shooting styles.

Photo by Ryan.

2. Street photography means something different to everyone.

I have a very clear idea of what street photography means to me, but whenever we take on a new group of students it is very important to discover exactly what their definition is for what they are trying to achieve.

Some people are simply looking to improve with approaching people for street portraits, whereas others are more interested in inanimate objects, representing what life leaves behind rather than specific actions and activity.

Although the methodology for capturing these will sometimes be similar it is still important to be very specific that different circumstances call for different approaches. As a teacher, it is sometimes difficult to keep in mind which students are looking to achieve which effect and to guide them accordingly to different points of interest in a scene.

Photo by Fei.

3. Everyone brings something different to their style, and that isn’t always a good thing.

Everyone is “tuned” to see things differently based on their past consumption of media, photographs, their politics, education, and so on. This means that some people have a very set idea of what the “Human Condition” actually involves, and as a teacher, it is my job to try and open their eyes to other possible ways of seeing.

In my last class, I had a student who was an incredibly competent still-life photographer. After we reviewed the work from the first assignment it was very clear that this student had simply gone out and interpreted our instructions in a fine-art, still-life mentality. He has come wanting to learn how to shoot people better but had avoided including any in these images.

David and I had to tell him that if he wanted different results he was going to have to take a different approach. He ended up putting his Canon back in his bag and shooting the rest of the course with his iPhone. You can still feel a still-life aesthetic from his images, but I’m very proud of the way he adapted to include more “real-life.”

4. Hurdles are almost always either technical or mental.

Actual technical control over a camera is not difficult to learn. Basic functions of exposure and focus can be mastered in a matter of weeks, and for street photography, I tend to encourage shooting in either aperture priority or fully automatic so that you’re focused on the scene rather than the gear.

The mental hurdles are far harder for some students to break down; the self-imposed fears, limitations, and ethics that may prevent them from shooting a candid image or even taking up someone’s time by asking for a street portrait.

There are a few techniques we go over for candid work, and a few discussions to see what people’s reasons are for avoiding people. It can often feel more like a therapy session than a class, but we can usually break through these barriers by the end of the second day.

The images throughout this article are all by students who started out with preconceptions and misgivings about the way they would be perceived as street photographers, and general fear of approaching people. It was great watching as a teacher and seeing these students open up, open their minds to a friendly approach, and being rewarded by these images.

Photo by Fei.

5. You can only control yourself.

One of the most important lessons I think is that in street photography, the only “moving part” of a scene you truly have control over is yourself. Composition relies on where you choose to place yourself. Part of this means always looking for vantage points or safe places to kneel down for lower angle shots. Constantly working the scene means more than taking many images from one spot, but trying every spot you have access to until the best composition reveals itself. Sometimes only a few millimeters can make all the difference!

Me shooting. Photo by Fei.

6. Three is a crowd.

One of the hardest things to manage is working as a group while maintaining the integrity of a scene. When I shoot my personal work I’ll either be alone or with one other person, which I prefer for a few reasons. When working with a small group I like to manage four people, because that makes for a good ratio of two groups of two, with one tutor, either David or myself, overseeing each.

However, there is a definite difference between operating as two people and operating as three. The dynamic is entirely different, and subjects respond differently to seeing three lenses.

For this reason, I try and keep a few steps distance between myself and my students, although I’ll always run in and offer insight if I feel it’s necessary.

Photo by Jiacai.

7. Photographs are one of the worst examples when teaching photography.

My presentations, discussions, and practice research assignments are based around individual activity and personal development – learning by doing. There are no diagrams or examples of photographs. I do not teach the history of street photography, and I am not interested in showcasing my own work. Techniques are better demonstrated in person so that students can try things out rather than interpreting a diagram.

I find that showing an example of a photograph will lead to students seeking to copy that image, even if I specifically ask them not to. Even after presenting their own work to each other I will see the influence of this work on the other students.

Further, when looking at a photograph you can often not really tell exactly how it was taken unless you specifically look for the photographer’s story. Simply looking at work without, for example, a contact sheet, can leave a student feeling confused and with no real insight on how it was achieved – not at a technical level but at a sociological one.

Photo by Ryan.

8. Try every technique at least once!

Not every technique will fit with everyone’s shooting style. However even if a method doesn’t feel right it is still useful to know as many as possible, so that if the circumstances of a scene called for something specific, you are equipped to deal with it. You may also combine techniques and find that that suits you better. When I teach, I cover shooting from the hip, framing and zone focusing, panning, exposing for different conditions, and using the camera Lomography style.

Not everything clicks for every student but it’s great watching a student get to grips with a style and then apply it without me asking them to, but when they think it suits a scene, is really great!

9. If you aren’t frustrated then you probably aren’t learning.

Street photography can be one of the most frustrating genres, as nothing is ever guaranteed. It can be difficult to see your own progress, and there will always be a feeling of inadequacy when seeing work others are producing, even if yours is just as good if not better. Many students can identify where they would like their work to be, but the steps getting there are not as clear. Training your eye to see things differently does take time, and this process cannot be forced. The framework from the course is an excellent place to start, but a lot of it is in the student’s hands.

Many students express their frustration that they cannot see the things I am pointing out, or that they can’t quite expose the right way, or any number of other things, and I always reply in the same way: if you didn’t feel frustrated then you wouldn’t be learning anything. Frustration occurs when you reach the edge of a personal barrier, and you are trying to break through. After hard work and practice, that frustration will be replaced by frustration towards a different aspect of photography. It will rarely go away entirely but should be used to motivate you onwards rather than be an excuse to quit.

Photo by Mika.

10. The photographs don’t really matter.

The point of studying a short course in street photography is not to achieve a fantastic portfolio of images over a weekend. Although it is nice to have hard work pay off in the form of a photograph you enjoy it is far more important to use the experience to learn and grow as a person, and an artist. Even if you decide afterward that street photography is not for you it should hopefully help the way you relate to strangers, and observe the light and interaction around you.

The feeling of shooting with a group of positive, energetic, like-minded artists can be enough to spark a desire to continue, and importantly continue to improve, and that can lead to a portfolio of work, or just better images overall that document that person’s life. It’s the attitude, not the images.

Photo by Jiacai.

11. Introspection is difficult, but very necessary.

I’m a very introspective person, it’s one of the reasons I write so much! I encourage my students to really study every decision they make while out and about shooting, while editing, and while critiquing their own work and others in order to identify in a non-abstract way what works and what does not as an image.

Self-improvement will come from creating structure from previous experience, so the last day of our course, which involves editing, curating, and criticism, is designed to help nurture that structure. Hearing the thoughts from their peers, the other students, rather than the tutors can help them feel more comfortable about their work, although I’ll always try and be specific with what I feel could be improved, or further things to think about both for the edit as well as addressing future scenes and scenarios.

I also think that true criticism, as a skill is underrated, and that many people could benefit from understanding the merit an image may possess beyond simple personal like/dislike.

This part of the course is always interesting, as students who were previously unsure of themselves will jump to defend and explain their work, or the work of others, and it becomes very easy for me as a teacher to see their progress in sheer comprehension based on these interactions.

Photo by Jiacai.

12. Ego has no place in the classroom.

I wouldn’t define myself as an egotist, but as an artist and an educator, it can be difficult not to sound pretentious when discussing any aspect of photography. This is intensified when a student brings back a particular piece of work that I think really stands out. I’ll want to learn about how they took it and their process in the same way I would want to talk to any photographer about the way they achieve their results.

In order to make sure that no competition exists between any of us, students and teachers alike, I try and be very open about every aspect of everything we are doing, and encourage the students to do the same. It becomes a process where everyone learns from everyone else, rather than pretending that as a teacher I somehow know better, or necessarily more than any of my students.

Photo by Jiacai.
Photo by Fei.
Photo by Mika.
Photo by Fei.

Anyone can learn any aspect photography from YouTube, or articles, or a book — that aspect isn’t special at all. What is special is an environment in which anyone can feel comfortable and safe not only practicing street photography but also sharing and working on improving their own understanding and the understanding of those around them in order to bring their attitude towards the medium to the next level.

I’ve really been enjoying teaching, and am looking forward to taking on my next class in April. I’m also planning on launching a series of shorter, one-two day courses, also through UAL, which will deal with very specific topics – street portraiture, light-architecture, low-light/night street photography, and hopefully street photography on film. I really look forward to seeing how focusing on a specific area of street photography will lead to approaching the way I instruct my students differently!

About the author: Simon King is a London based photographer and photojournalist, currently working on a number of long-term documentary and street photography projects. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can follow his work on Instagram and you can read more of his thoughts on photography day-to-day over on his personal blog. Simon also teaches a short course in Street Photography at UAL, which can be read about here.

Source: PetaPixel

12 Things I Learned While Teaching Street Photography

Luar’s FW19 Is For The Werking Girl

Luar’s FW19 Is For The Werking Girl
Luar’s designer, Raul Lopez, answered the question that many people ask but haven’t received a definite answer on yet: Are the 2000’s back? And if so, are they bringing low-rise pants with them? The answer to both of those, is yes, Lopez concluded with his recent NYFW /r ə ‘dem(p)SH(ə)n/

Inspired by a time of capitalist lure, mini skirts, short bangs, Paris Hilton and MySpace, Luar expressed his admiration of the diamanté crowded era through fur trim, asymmetric skort-trouser combination…

Keep on reading: Luar’s FW19 Is For The Werking Girl
Source: V Magazine

Luar’s FW19 Is For The Werking Girl

Ep. 312: New Bodies, New Lenses and Old Kodak – and more

Ep. 312: New Bodies, New Lenses and Old Kodak – and more

Episode 312 of the PetaPixel Photography Podcast.
Download MP3 –  Subscribe via iTunesGoogle Playemail or RSS!

Featured: Nikon Ambassador, Charmi Peña

In This Episode

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Show Opener:
Nikon Ambassador, Charmi Peña, opens the show.  Thanks Charmi!

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Kodak does it yet again. (#)

Canon unveils its EOS RP before going even smaller. (#)

Panasonic enters the full-frame mirrorless arena with its S1 and S1R. (#)

Bowens just won’t die. (#)

Panasonic unveils three new lenses for its new mirrorless system. (#)

Pentax drops a couple of new lenses on us. (#)

This sweet filter will have you seeing red. (#)


Connect With Us

Thank you for listening to the PetaPixel Photography Podcast! Connect with me, Sharky James on TwitterInstagram and Facebook (all @LensShark) as we build this community.

We’d love to answer your question on the show. Leave us an audio question through our voicemail widget, comment below or via social media. But audio questions are awesome!

You can also cut a show opener for us to play on the show! As an example: “Hi, this is Matt Smith with Double Heart Photography in Chicago, Illinois, and you’re listening to the PetaPixel Photography Podcast with Sharky James!”

Source: PetaPixel

Ep. 312: New Bodies, New Lenses and Old Kodak – and more

The Only Rule in Street Photography

The Only Rule in Street Photography

I see a lot of articles across the Internet claiming to know the “rules to follow” or the “things to avoid” in street photography, easily one of the most hotly debated genres. What they tend to misunderstand is just how little the genre cares for photographic rules, and what the defining elements of street photography really are that go beyond any of the purely photographic elements.

If you study the history of the genre and the work of those that came before us, you’ll start to understand that the rules of photography, while important, are generally irrelevant to the real strength behind the most intriguing street photographs. Composition, framing, and light are always important in each genre, but in street photography they don’t take center stage like they might in landscape photography.

The strongest street photography ultimately tells us something about ourselves, about how fleeting and arbitrary our lives can sometimes feel, and can even reveal moments that we may never notice as we speed through our daily lives.

Invoke Questions On The Street

Leica M7, Voigtländer 35mm F1.7, Kodak Tri-X 400 in Tokyo, Japan

Could they be brothers? Or is that a woman on the left? Are they old friends? Why are they holding hands? Is something wrong with the man on the right? Is he ill?

I was trying to think of the best way to describe not necessarily how to achieve great street photographs, but to describe the fundamental nature of what they do to us as viewers; why they intrigue us more than other work. “Invoke questions” seemed to fit the task the best.

I’ve been practicing street photography since around 2014 when I began to get involved with other photographers who loved the style and accessibility of the genre, but it took me until recently to become aware of just what made the best street photography most fascinating.

Like everyone else, I’ve made countless photographs of people walking past me, of a person walking along a wall, of a crowd, or simply seen something with interesting light and taken the photo, but these photographs have served a purpose, to tell me what is interesting and what is not.

Mystery & Narrative

The problem with a lot of street photography is that there is little to no narrative being suggested, such as the commuter walking along a wall mid-step or the person stepping into a shaft of light. In contrast, the most intriguing photographs will have questions flying around them and may even puzzle your viewers as to what is going on. Your viewers may start to build a narrative in their minds, whether truthful or imagined, due to the circumstances of the subject matter and timing.

Take the photograph below for example. In the center of the frame we have a woman wearing a mask with a man who seems to be questioning her, and curiously in the top left corner is someone asking for what seems like a donation while wearing more traditional Japanese garments and a hat that seems out of place in central Tokyo.

What draws me in is the man’s face. What is he doing? Is he harassing her? Does he know her? What is he trying to sell to her?

By arriving at that last question, I’ve started to imbue some kind of potential narrative on the scene, and that is where intriguing street photography begins. I haven’t answered any questions, but I’ve suggested to myself some kind of narrative based on my own personal experience, something I can relate to in a personal way.

Leica M7, Voigtländer 35mm F1.7, Kodak Tri-X 400 in Tokyo, Japan

Not all street photographs are this straight forward. Many have no clear questions to ask but are still fascinating for other reasons. This rule of invoking questions is more of a waypoint to guide you. The problem for someone wanting to improve on their street photography is that there are no hard and fast tips. I’m the first person to understand that you can’t exactly go looking for “questions” as if they are floating above people’s heads.

The best advice I can give, as only a student of those that came before me, is to do just that. Study the greats, from Henri Cartier-Bresson to Joel Meyerowitz, Fred Herzog, William Eggleston, Elliot Erwitt, Vivian Maier, Dorothea Lange, and others. Their names are on the walls for a reason.

Then find contemporary street photographers doing great work and try to see how the two groups meet in a modern environment. One of my favorite contemporary street photographers is Severin Koller, but his work seems timeless due to its fundamental nature of capturing fascinating and sometimes puzzling moments of human life irrespective of light or visual beauty.

Pay attention to people, their actions, and their potential motives and you’ll start to instinctually move toward areas where something “may happen”, or you’ll see things happening in your periphery and if you’re ready, you can capture the moment at the perfect moment.

One suggestion I personally have is to work on your timing of the shutter. Learn to wait until the action is at its halfway point, such as someone speaking or an arm being raised in gesture or a person running down a street is halfway through their stride. This suggests action and action suggests narrative.

When Is It Something Else?

Street photography is a broad genre, one that defies boundaries in a lot of ways because it is so fundamental to human nature, so it’s interesting to figure out just where the genre fades and a photograph starts to become something else.

Take the photographs below. While I can definitely say these are street photographs because they tick the necessary boxes, are they something other or perhaps something more?

When the clear narrative questioning makes way for graphical composition, I think the work has started to transition into fine art composition more than literal street photography.

These photographs are visually composed more deliberately to balance the elements into a piece that could be printed and framed on a wall. The environment and the light has started to take on a larger role, which is where fine art begins and street photography lessons to a degree.

That is not to say these are any less worthy as street photography, but simply that they will play a different role in your work. They may even become the photographs that sell more due to their more deliberate visual appeal.

Leica M7, Voigtländer 35mm F1.7, Kodak Tri-X 400 in Kyoto, Japan
Leica M7, Voigtländer 35mm F1.7, Kodak Tri-X 400 in Brisbane, Australia

The Takeaway

Street photography is hard. It challenges our observational skills, our sense of vulnerability and our ability to react at a moment’s notice, which is why it can be so rewarding to finally capture something that others may have never noticed and to walk away with work that can hopefully stand the test of time and be remembered.

Remember that us humans love to ponder narratives and pose questions on circumstances inside and outside ourselves. From childhood we are curious creatures, asking questions of our parents then of our friends and peers as we grow up.

We wonder about other’s lives and what ours might be, so to find photographic moments that also ask us to question, to ponder and to be intrigued by seems only natural.

About the author: Nick Bedford is an documentary and fine art photographer based in Brisbane, Australia. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Bedford’s work on his website, YouTube, and Instagram. This article was also published here.

Source: PetaPixel

The Only Rule in Street Photography

How to Clean Your Mirrorless Camera Sensor: Tools, Tactics, Tips, and Tricks

How to Clean Your Mirrorless Camera Sensor: Tools, Tactics, Tips, and Tricks

Seeing spots in your photos? Your camera’s sensor might need a cleaning. If you’d like to go a do-it-yourself route and beyond a simple bulb blower, Michael The Maven made this 13-minute video walkthrough on how you can go about cleaning a mirrorless camera sensor.

Michael’s strategy is probably more involved than what most photographers do — he uses a special $18 loupe to see sensor dust more clearly, for example — but his tips and recommended tools may come in handy for some photographers who struggle with dust specks.

To use the sensor loupe, which was designed for DSLRs, on his mirrorless Nikon Z6, Michael created a 3D printed loupe extender that he also sells for $15 on his website.

Source: PetaPixel

How to Clean Your Mirrorless Camera Sensor: Tools, Tactics, Tips, and Tricks