My first taste of photography was at the Tate Modern years ago. I had just taken several History of Art courses so I was familiar with photography but had never had the opportunity to view it up close. Tate was doing an exhibition entitled How We Are Photographing Britain, which showed photography through Britain’s ages. Since then, I have been captivity by photography and those who create such works. Photography combines both my love of history and art.
Okay, I tell a lie, my first exposure to photography had to be as a little girl in fifth grade. One of our ladies from church had a stack of old Vogue magazines that for some reason she had given me. I fell in love with the photographs in those magazines and would hang them up all over my room. I especially enjoyed Grace Covington’s photography since she mixed modern fashion with historic locations. She tells a story through her photos. When anyone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I stated, “An astronaut and a fashion designer.” My career as an astronaut and fashion designer never materialized, however, my love of photography has not diminished thanks to the exposure of art in Vogue.
Though thumbing through old Vogue magazines helped me to appreciate photography, Tate gave me my first real experience with photography. After learning the tools on how to of view art, I was seriously able to appreciate the photography I viewed in the Tate Modern. I was introduced to photographers such as Roger Mayne, Jason Evans, and Keith Arnatt. Some of the photographers could be a little hard to understand, while others were easier to relate to, and still others held my attention for many years to come. I was able to see how history and art came together. For me, photography captures that one moment in time that you can never repeat. Photography is a slice of that time line…it is as close as you can get to an actual time machine. Sure, a photographer can set up a subject, but we are seeing the photographer’s views through their work during their time period.
Take for instance this photo of a girl called Girl Jiving. This was, and still continues to be, one of my favorite portraits from the Tate expedition. I even have the print of the photograph hanging in my office. It could be true that Roger Mayne posed the young woman and told her to smile and dance, but can’t you see the essence of youth in the late 1950’s Britain? The feelings the photographer had are captured in that photo, as well as the feelings that young woman had. What she is wearing, how her hair is cut, and even the location show us a different time, a different feeling at that time. We get a taste of life during the start of the 1960’s. I wanted to know that girl who could dance in the street. She was a real person and Roger Mayne was able to capture that.
Any time I view a piece of photography, my mind instantly thinks about what the subject is going through. If it’s a landscape, then I think of myself in that landscape. Photography allows you to create a story, it allows you to transport to that scene. If it’s a portrait, you can look into the subject’s eyes and, hopefully, the photographer has captured the life in those eyes. Since the eyes are truly the windows to the soul, the right photographer can capture that.
The photographers can capture the feelings of that time and place, making photography a truly wonderful medium. I’ve always believed that history is more than simply memorizing dates and names. History walks hand-in-hand with art, and photography is certainly one of those mediums as proof to this.
Below, I’ve included some photographers with wonderful work please take a look.
Roger Mayne: http://www.rogermayne.com/menu.html
Lauren Greenfield: http://www.laurengreenfield.com/
Dean O’ Gorman: http://deanogorman.com/
Keith Arnatt: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/keith-arnatt-666
Jason Evans: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artists/jason-evans-3246
Tate Modern: http://www.tate.org.uk/visit/tate-modern
Written By: Kristy Trowbridge