Photogrammar: 170,000 photographs of America between 1935 and 1945

Telephone linemen at the Casa Grande Valley Farms, Pinal County, Arizona.

Between 1935 to 1945 the United States Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information commissioned photographers to document the situation of the agricultural communities of America after the depression and the great drought known as the “Dust Bowl” had thrown many people into poverty.

The university of Yale has now made these more than 170.000 photos that came out of these assignments available as a web-based project: You can use the search to pick out illustrious names like Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans or Gordon Parks – or just wander around the map of rural america at how many great photographers whose names have since been largely forgotten have been working on this project. And be humbled by the devastating struggle the people in these times went through.

On a side-note, I wonder how and based on what funds our lives will have been documented in eighty years from now: Will there be an archive of geocoded selfies? Will flickr still be on and have grown into a behemoth of cat-pictures of almost a century? With the shift from state-founded documentation towards a largely unorganized sprawl of privately and corporately organized photography, thes kind of gigantic, centrally organized endeavors have been replaced by make-shift. Yes, there are certainly many, many more pictures in the world today, but which of these pictures will still be there in a century? Or, to put it another way: When we’re all gone and our struggles forgotten, what picture of this will our descendants have left from us? A ton of Selfies?

 

 

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Ecce Homo

For the easter holidays, we visited friends in Valencia. Apart from my trusty RX100, this was the first time I took my recently acquired Leica M3 from 1955 out for a spin. Photographing the Easter procession, which started at mid-day and went on till late at night was challenging with the M3: It’s of course fully manual, so you just use it as low as you can think you go: I shot wide open (1.8 with the 50mm Summicron) and went down to 1/60 or 1/30 and had the film pushed two stops. You cannot expect pixel-peeping sharpness under these conditions, but there were some glimpses of  what you can do with this camera, but it certainly still needs a lot of practice and experience to use the effects of this camera more deliberately and less random. I’m not sure if I’m hooked yet, but it was an interesting experiment…

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Russian Avantgarde in Bochum

Pioneer, Alexander Michailowitsch Rodtschenko

 

Amazing Exhibition in Bochum, Germany on Russian Avantgarde Photography. Portraits blew me away; series of pictures on a travel from Moscow to Leningrad. Definite must-see.

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Frankfurt, Workshop Jane Evelyn Atwood

odd one out

odd one out

 

Started sorting out the pictures from the Frankfurt-Workshop with Jane Evelyn Atwood. “Storytelling with Pictures” is quite a premise – after telling stories about pursuing her Women in Prison-project for more than 10 years, she sent us out on the street to find an tell our own story in less than 4 hours…

You have to admire the dedication and lots of the pictures&the stories she told about them were breathtaking… –

On the streets some bloody mistakes: the batteries on my rx100 went dead on me after 5 minutes and I used the 28mm all day that I hardly knew: In the end I shot one roll of film (an ilford 400/c41 that was developed overnight) and around 180 photos using the nikon D5300. On saturday, I was pretty annoyed with the digital pictures: I’m still having issues focusing with the 28mm, and I found it hard to focus on one story instead, there was probably too many random drifting… Yet I loved to be out on the streets again and in something that at least remotely qualifies as a city.

The area around the station in Frankfurt is quite amazing. Lots of foreigners, some junkies, some red-light-district. Felt alive, felt happy to be away from the Zeil, which is like a desert.

Walked the streets on an early sunday morning, it was bloody cold and very quiet and in the entrances of the closed shops homeless people were sleeping. It was like a second population, that had taken over the city when the shops had closed…

 

 

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Alaska

selection-5

 

Alaska is a magical country. Rarely felt so relaxed when traveling. Everything big, everything gigantic, endless skies, glaciers are like remains from the very first days of the earth. Everything feels old and untouched and new at the same time. Everybody drives a big car. Here, finally, I can understand that you want to drive an SUV…

 

 

 

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