Monday’s Inspiration – Paul Strand

Paul Strand is considered as one of the greatest and most influential photographers of the 20th Century.

He was an American photographer and film maker who along with Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston helped establish photography as an art form.

Born in New York, Paul Strand began his photography journey at 17 years old, studying under Lewis Hine.

During his studies, he met Stieglitz who later published Strand’s work in his gallery and also in his photography publication. Some of his well-know early work include “Wall Street”.

However in 1915, he discovered the intrinsic capabilities of the large format camera. His photographs moved from soft-focus scenes of modern New York that reflect the energy and movement of the city and its inhabitants to focused expressions of objective reality. His images gained power and their integration of reality and abstraction within the composition. Many of his work during this time focused on architectural elements and curvilinear still-life form, subjects inspired by Stieglitz and the painter Charles Sheeler.

In 1920, a shift was seen in Strand’s career. His social consciousness led to explore the relationship between art and politics and devoted his career to progressive causes, turning to cinematography for a decade.

In 1934, he helped found Frontier Films, a documentary film company dedicated to pro-labour causes.

He remained an active photographer while in the films but his subject matter changed. He concentrated on images of farmers and villagers in New England and Mexico, expressing and admiration for a simpler life.

In 1936, he joined Berenice Abbott to establish the Photo League in New York.

Paul Strand’s body of work spans six decades which is quite impressive on its own but his talent covers numerous genres and subjects throughout America, Europe and Africa.

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