Posts Tagged ‘The Family of Man’

couple up hill (4)

Central Park.  c. 1969, New York City.  By Paul Goldfinger, © Tri-X Series.

By Paul Goldfinger, Photography editor @Blogfinger.

I was never a rock and tree photographer. Not to compare myself to Ansel Adams, but he was that type. For me, the vast majority of my photos have to do with people, or some evidence of people. I rarely did landscapes, and ironically, I usually disliked portraits.

Recently I have embarked on a memoir of sorts.  It involves a large number of black and white 35 mm images. It began in the late 1960’s when my good friend in the Army brought me a 35 mm camera back from Japan.  It was a Pentax Spotmatic.  So over the years I amassed negatives, most of which I put aside, because darkroom work was so time consuming that only a few ever became prints.   Lately I have been scanning some of those negatives to produce positive images that I can reveal on Blogfinger.

The one above, from Central Park, seemed meaningful to me.   And as I looked at it, I found out why.  It pulled me back to the 1950’s when famed photographer Edward Steichen put together an ambitious photography exhibit at MOMA  (Museum of Modern Art in New York.  )  He wanted to bring together about 500 pictures from all over the world illustrating the commonality of man, and it was called the Family of Man.

Most of the photographers were American, so it had a Western flavor. Each photo had a little blurb by Steichen’s brother-in-law Carl.  It wasn’t Carl from Queens; no, it was Carl Sandburg, the poet.

Later came the book. By today’s publishing standards, the photographs were of poor quality technically, but they were so powerful.

Which brings me to W. Eugene Smith the photojournalist famous for his work in the Pacific (WWII,) essays about Albert Schweitzer, and a vast library of jazz portraits.

My connection with Smith came about only in my head.  Looking at my image above, I saw an echo of the last photograph in the Family of Man. Smith was the photographer.  Look at it below, and you will see what I mean.

W. Eugene Smith. From “The Family of Man.” Scanned from the book.


*That quote was by the French poet Saint-John Perse (1887-1975) who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1960.


BILL FRISELL  from his album Nashville.


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