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Thread: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

  1. #1

    Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    I am fascinated by how Strand made this photograph! I'm sure that someone in this forum has done simular work, and I'd like a hint as to what direction to head to achieve a simular effect.

  2. #2

    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    Specifically what? It's a platinum print from a sitting done in France in 1951. The boy is staring directly into the lens. The background is a wall of weathered wood. The masters touch and decades of photographing people and places are what makes the difference.

    Having seen the works, many prints, by Paul Strand I place him on the top of the list of the greatest photographers in the history of photography.

  3. #3

    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Massachusetts USA

    Re: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    "I am fascinated by how Strand made this photograph!"

    Although it is sometimes shown cropped closely to the vertical, the whole photo is horizontal. (My memory may be off, but I seem to recall a giant banner hanging on the Philadelphia Museum of Art, with a vertical version of the portrait, when the Strand retrospective exhibit showed in 1971).

    Based on the full image's aspect ratio of roughly 5:6, it was probably made on his 5x7 Graflex camera (permanently masked to 5x6), with a 300mm Dagor lens (the only lens he used for decades).

    If we can find a similar subject, background, and lighting, and make a competent Large Format photograph - well exposed/developed/printed and toned similarly - we can make something vaguely similar. While the technical part is more readily attained, the artistic vision and inspiration are another matter entirely.

    Last edited by Ken Lee; 6-Dec-2011 at 04:23.

  4. #4
    Greg Greg Blank's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Planet Earth

    Re: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    Paul Strand's work has influenced my own probably the most at the eariest part of my photo history. I saw his work in The National Gallery in 1990.The show in conjunction with the Aperture Foundation had a very impressive body of his work. Strand was a junior contemporary of Adams and Weston. Strand's earliest work to recall was done on factory made Platinum which in those days one could purchase just like silver papers. From what I remember he also did make his own paper for a time an then moved to utilizing silver papers. All of the images impressed me but I especially like the Landscape, and close up industrial shots. But his portraiture is fabulous also. The influence I took away was more relative obtaining the contrast and tonality of the prints. Obsessing on how to achieve that luminous quality and contrast range on a consistent basis.
    "Great things are accomplished by talented people who believe they will
    accomplish them."
    Warren G. Bennis

  5. #5

    Join Date
    Apr 2005

    Re: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    "As a teenager, Adams decided to become a concert pianist, but by 1930, after viewing negatives made by east coast photographer Paul Strand, he chose instead a career in photography. His decision to become a full-time photographer contributed to the formation of a new vision in photography in the West."

    Quoted in many periodicals and in Adams and Strands own books. He wasn't junior to anyone, he worked right through Alfred Stieglitz who showed his work in the gallery 291 and in his Camera Work. His film Manhattan was the first avante-garde film in America.

  6. #6
    MIke Sherck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2002
    Elkhart, IN

    Re: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    If I could find a combined exhibit of Strand, Cunningham and Weston, I'd have to bring my sleeping bag and Occupy the place.

    Living here in the Midwest as I do, I've seen some Westons on exhibit, a couple of Strands, but nothing from Imogene Cunningham. The local arts scene begins and ends with painters... *Sigh*

    Politically, aerodynamically, and fashionably incorrect.

  7. #7
    tgtaylor's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2006
    San Francisco Bay Area

    Re: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    "...and I'd like a hint as to what direction to head to achieve a simular effect."

    I'm just speculating but he is a good looking kid and that no nonsense piercing look is probably his walking around face. When their paths intersected Strand, being the photographer he was, immediatly saw the potential for a strong portrait, got the kid to pose and probably coaxed him in maintaing that look if the kid started to wimp out in front of the camera.

  8. #8
    Format Omnivore Brian C. Miller's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 1999
    Everett, WA

    Re: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Reynolds View Post
    ... and I'd like a hint as to what direction to head to achieve a simular effect.
    Walk around. Look for interesting faces. Talk to people. Photograph them. Repeat until out of film.

    Really, that's all that's done for photographs like these. Somebody will say yes. Just keep doing it.
    "It's the way to educate your eyes. Stare. Pry, listen, eavesdrop. Die knowing something. You are not here long." - Walker Evans

  9. #9

    Join Date
    Sep 2007

    Re: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    Every time I see that photo I'm drawn to the clothing -particularly the undershirt and the wood with it's metal jewelry

    If you look at everything in the photo
    everything in it is very ornate
    the boy may be poor as dirt ..who really knows, who cares
    the artisans who made the decorative iron
    work eventhough its utilitarian
    the boy is good looking with an ornate, I think, face
    forehead and thin straight nose
    lower eyelids
    lips echo the wavy flowing hair
    ribbed shirt or whatever knitted whatever it is

    you can have a good looking boy or girl pose today in the same fashion and the clothes theyre wearing may look like tinkerbell puked all over em the fence or barn or whatever behind them is recently painted if it's even wood and not PVC the only thing it'll probably be decorated with is some Ikea looking BS finial that you can't include in the photo and the latch? It's an electronic keypad or some cheap .89 POS they took 45 minutes to screw in and it's still lopsided perhaps with a generic masterlock dangling from it

    There isn't a whole lot of charm in todays world
    todays Charm is Brand

  10. #10

    Re: Paul Strand photo, "Young Boy."

    Thanks for all your replies. The thing I find so wonderful about the portrait is the sense of "otherness." The boy looks almost like he's constructed of metal; his skin looks metalic, his fierce gaze is riveted on the camera, perhaps this is what radiation would look like if it were visable. Another of Strand's photographs, "Mr. Bennett, Vermont 1944," is quite simular and equally outstanding.

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