The Photographer's Eye
Helen Levitt, New York (baby carriage), c. 1940.
Diane Arbus, Jack Dracula at Bar, 1961.












Structuralism = philosophical approach that analyzes society by looking at cultural phenomena, particularly signs, that have hidden underlying meanings that can be decoded

Robert Frank, Ranch Market - Hollywood, 1955 - 1956.











Robert Frank, Rodeo- New York City, 1955 - 1956.











Robert Frank, Charleston, South Carolina, 1955 - 1956.











"Photography is a solitary journey. That is the only course open to the creative photographer. There is no compromise: Only a few photographers accept this fact. That is probably the reason why we have only a few really great photographers. In recent years camera journalism has become many people's definition of good photography. For me camera journalism means taste dictated by the magazines." - Robert Frank
Robert Frank, Indiannapolis, Indiana, 1955 - 1956.











John Szarkowski, Director of Photography
at Museum of Modern Art 1962 - 1991

Evans, Burroughs Kitchen, 1936

The Photographer's Eye, 1966
In 1990, U.S. News & World Report said, "Szarkowski's thinking, whether Americans know it or not, has become our thinking about photography."
  • Szarkowski argued that a photo should not look like a painting.
  • Instead, he thought that photography needed to "abandon its allegiance to traditional pictorial standards and be inventive in terms of inherent qualities with which photography was born whole."
Listed five characteristics unique to photography:
  • "the thing itself" - a photo is a picture, not the equivalent of reality
  • "the detail" - compelling clarity and isolation of a fragment of reality
  • "the frame" - the "central act of choosing and eliminating"
  • "the vantage point"
  • Insisted that "all photographs are time exposures, of shorter or longer duration"
Walker Evans, Kitchen in Floyd Burroughs' Home, 1936.











Snapshot Aesthetic = an apparently uncomposed everyday subject that is photographed in a way that mimics instantaneous sight
Three shows coined the phrase:
  • Twelve Photographers of the American Social Landscape at Brandeis University in 1966
  • Toward a Social Landscape at George Eastman House in 1966
  • New Documents show at MOMA in 1967
Lee Friedlander, Florida (with sexy eyes), 1963.











Characteristics of snapshot aesthetic:

Use of available light only
Deliberately imperfect
Detached and impersonal approach
Garry Winogrand, Part of the All Women Are Beautiful series, 1964.











Lee Friedlander, New York City, 1965.











Lee Friedlander, New York, 1963.





















Social Landscape strategies:

Catch subjects unaware
No previsualization
Tilted framing
"I photograph to find out what the world looks like photographed." - Garry Winogrand
Garry Winogrand, World's Fair, New York, 1964.











New York City

Garry Winogrand, Central Park Zoo, New York City, 1967.






















“'Authority lost its privileged place almost overnight. Authority figures- fathers, mothers, cops, judges, teachers, senators, and the president of the United States- were suddenly spending as much time defending their conduct as they were exercising their power. University presidents and deans were physically thrown out of their offices. Flags were burned and cops were routinely called ‘pigs.’' This passage from Tom Brokaw’s book, Boom! Voices of the Sixties, illustrates a prominent theme of an important decade. He goes on to say, 'Few institutions escaped some kind of assault or change. The very pillars of the Greatest Generation- family, community, university, corporation, Church, law- were challenged to one degree or another. Nothing was beyond question, and there were far fewer answers than before.' During the 1960’s, Americans began to question and challenge authority in ways they never had before." - Road to Change: Questioning Authority in the 1960s
I Am A Man March, 1965.