A THOUSAND WORDS - Alex Waterhouse-Hayward's blog on pictures, plants, politics and whatever else is on his mind.


A photographic misconception - twice
Monday, January 30, 2006

There are some that think that with the digital revolution in photography it is very difficult to believe what we see. Photography has lied since its inception when Daguerre paid a man in 1839 to lie still for close to 30 minutes (we were led to believe this was a candid "grab" shot) while he had his boots polished on a Paris street. German photographer August Sander photographed the young German soldier on the left. In my mind I have always seen this photograph in colour. I know he has bleached blond hair and very blue eyes. He is a perfect example of Hitler's master race. He seems to have equanimity in spades and fears no one. Yet if one is to believe the date underneath, 1945, one would guess that the Russians may have been a few miles away if not a few blocks away. Does this photograph lie?

Several photographers have died at their prime and their prime has been at an age when in most other professions one would be checking one's gold watch to see when to take the prescribed pills. George Hurrell died in his 80s as did Richard Avedon. One of my favourites was Mexican Manuel Alvarez Bravo who died in 2002 at age 100. At 84 he took the picture on the right, El Trapo Negro, or the Black Cloth. It is one of the most erotic photographs I have ever seen.


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