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Photographic Approaches Towards Landscapes: Peter Henry Emerson Critical Essay

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Updated: Jul 3rd, 2019

Photography philosophy

Peter Henry Emerson was a British photographer who dropped his medical career to practice photography. He insisted that science was a core part of art and photography and thus, he endeavored to prove how the two were completely dependent. Emerson’s photography was based on how the human eye worked and he took his photographs considering how the same image would be seen by a human eye.

He was of the opinion that art should not be used just as a tool to express your personal intentions but photography should be a reflection of a person as a whole in character, ability and emotions. Frederick H. Evans, another British photographer who practiced pure photography, his art work emanated from processed plain films.

He was an anti-pictorialist and he never used any special lenses to manipulate the outcomes of a picture. He aimed to produce pictures that were real both in real life ratios and was against any form of camera tricks or alterations.

Aesthetic approach

Emerson was interested in the traditional way of life and mostly with people living in rural areas. He was fascinated by these people’s relations to the land. He manipulated tones in his art and tried to see images as the human eye could see it. Evans took an architectural approach to his photography and he focused on the spatial and lighting effects created by buildings and structures.

Images that exemplify their vision with regards to landscapes both urban and rural. The photograph below is Emerson’s work depicting a swamp landscape in the Norfolk Broads in rural eastern England.

Photographic by Emerson

This photograph is the art work of Evans that was solely aimed to capture the magnificent architectural work called “Steps to Charter House: A Sea of Steps, Wells Cathedral”.

Evans, “Steps to Charter House: A Sea of Steps, Wells Cathedral”

Social ills in photographic works

Dorothea Lange was more of a socialist photographer she regarded art as a vital reflection of the American history. She used art to show the various social ills in existence and used her artwork to point out these moral flaws. She asserted her strong beliefs to ensure social injustices were accorded due action.

She was an activist who brought to light the plight of the less privileged. Photographer Walker Evans was keen to details in his photographic work he also had an interest in architectural pictures. He was of the opinion that Americans were keen to commercialize anything so as to earn money.

He did not support the use of art in any commercial way and his art work strongly symbolized the course of human life. He used flattened and locale perspective to show the bound to the life of human beings. He also did documentaries by producing a collection of pictures which were captioned to explain what they depicted.

Dorothea Lange photographed workers’ protests and also was keen on the welfare of migrant farm workers. The photograph captioned ‘migrant mother’ showed how the farmers’ condition was deplorable. Walker photographed the effects of the depression and highlighted the problems of impoverished in the society. He was able to capture the economical effects of the depression vividly in a picture.

Specific images that exemplify their vision with regards to people/portraits. Lange’s photograph below was largely popular for highlighting the impoverished farmworkers and the effects of the economic depression.

Photographic by Dorothea Lange

Evans photograph from the collection land of the free is of a cemetery; he uses this picture to show that only when a person is dead then they escape the plights caused by poverty and the depression.

Photographic by Evans
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IvyPanda. 2019. "Photographic Approaches Towards Landscapes: Peter Henry Emerson." July 3, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/photographic-approaches-towards-landscapes-peter-henry-emerson/.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Photographic Approaches Towards Landscapes: Peter Henry Emerson'. 3 July.

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