Photo Essays, Spot News and Stock Photography

Posts from the ‘Creative’ category

Pennsylvania, c.1916


Wow! What a spectacular farm photo. But is this one of those photos that blurs the line between documentary and creative? I tend to think so. Great wall art for sure. A photo that could almost pass for a painting. “The Tin Lizzy“; Pennsylvania, c.1916. Not much left of this Model T, but the message would be entirely different if it had been in great shape.

February 1944


Photojournalistic and documentary images by their very nature are taken under uncertain conditions. They are designed to tell a story, and not necessarily to be works of art. Every once in a while such a photo crosses this blood/brain barrier, if you will, and creates an image worthy of display in a gallery. “Gapstow Bridge in Central Park“; Manhattan, NYC (February 1944) is such an image. As luck would have it I actually have a similar image done as a painting in wintertime hanging in my home. Naturally, this photo caught my eye. Life during wartime no less. Based on Central Park weather records we can almost pin down the exact day of the month that this photo was taken. At the very least we can eliminate dates which do not fit the scene.

Marseille, France (1956)


Perhaps the ultimate in prisons except for Devil’s Island in what used to be French Guiana was “Château d’If” off the coast of Marseille, France. Prisoners were arranged by class with the poorest sent to the dungeons. Immortalized by Alexandre Dumas in his novel The Count of Monte Cristo concerning the imprisonment of Edmond Dantès. The prison, now a museum, is seen here in 1956. Clearly, Alcatraz was patterned after Château d’If.

Ohio c.1928 At least they were sledgehammer men, but that's where the similarity ends.


It was the sledgehammer that grabbed our attention. “John Henry Redux“; Ohio c.1928. The folk hero and the song, “John Henry was a Steel Driving Man” are a part of Americana. Our John Henry worked with a sledgehammer as did the folk hero but in a different occupation. He was not competing against a steam driven drill. What is a bit confusing in the photo is the angle at which he is swinging the sledgehammer. It seems to be at the wrong angle to drive in spikes, and if used to move a rail tie surely it would destroy the tie. The rails can shift over time, and today they would not be straightened using a sledgehammer there are machines made for that purpose. In this railroad worker’s time the sledgehammer was the tool of choice.

Now Playing: "The Falcon Out West"


I address this point about the use of shadows in a photograph because I believe it has been largely ignored in the literature. Shadows are not necessarily to be avoided, and rather I would argue that they should be incorporated if they improve the image. Such is the case, I believe, with “Along Pennsylvania Route 616” (1944). How would this scene look without the shadows? That is the question that you have to ask yourselves. Now playing: “The Falcon Out West” starring Tim Conway and Barbara Hale.

On the road to Jerusalem, July 1961.


You need to see this film, “Kingdom of Heaven” (2005) starring Orlando Bloom and Eva Green to appreciate its historical accuracy. Do your homework. I think that most people need to watch this film several times to understand the storyline. This is one of my favorite films, but then again I taught history.


Kingdom of Heaven“; Israel July 1961

Above the Rappahannock River.


If I showed you a photo of the Statue of Liberty I think that you would have little trouble in telling me that the location of the statue was New York Harbor. But what about a photo such as the one shown here? Could you identify the location? Call it an acquired skill or whatever, but after looking at tens of thousands of photos for 40 years such photo identification becomes possible. Perhaps my years of teaching history had some side benefits. I was able to identify the location without any accompanying documentation. This is “Fredericksburg, Virginia” c.1990 above the Rappahannock river.  If you look closely you can you not see the Union and Confederate soldiers squaring off for battle? Almost.