Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Photography, Photograph, Frame, Photographer, Portrait, Pound, Camera, Picture

Pages: 4

Words: 1100

Published: 2020/11/17

The photographer John Szarkowski identified five elements of photographic style. These characteristics of a photograph provide an explanation of its significance. In this essay, an analysis of the five elements is applied to two portraits, one of Nobel scientist Karl von Frisch and one of poet Ezra Pound.
In portraying the thing itself, Szarkowski states that “the photographer's vision convinces us to the degree that the photographer hides his hand.” The thing itself, according to Szarkowski, is not only the subject of the photograph but also the setting. It's the photographer's choice to include different elements of the setting in the composition of his photograph, and what he includes in his photograph counts as the reality he sets out to portray. The thing itself, therefore, is the reality of life that the photographer is trying to expose.
The detail of a photograph offers an intimate knowledge of the thing itself. The detail shows the symbolic importance of a photograph. It adds texture to the narrative that the picture is attempting to tell. Details offer a sense of place, time, and character.
The frame consists of the borders of the photograph. Everything in a photograph exists within the frame. Whether the frame of a photograph is consciously determined or not, it holds significance. The frame delineates the details of the photograph that the photographer deemed important. It is selected by the photographer specifically. Everything within the frame, from the subject, to the setting, to the relationships between the shapes, lines, textures, and colors, spans between all four corners of the frame. The frame composes of the area of space that the photographer thought most important. If a frame surrounds two unrelated figures in a crowd, it creates a relationship between the two figures that had never existed before. Similarly, the frame unites the features of a photograph that may have been unrelated until their inclusion in that photograph. According to Szarkowski, the central act of photography is the selection of the frame.
Another important element of a photograph is the time in which it is taken. Photographs are able only to describe a small portion of the world, and only for the brief moment in which they are taken. According to Szarkowski, photographs offer both an view of the past and a view of the future, with respect to that moment in which photographs record the present.
The vantage point of a photograph refers to the placement of the camera. A picture can be taken from an eye-level vantage point, or the subject can be recorded from above or below. The subject can be close up or far away, and it can be in full view or partially or fully hidden. It can be right side up, upside down, or sideways. The vantage point of a photograph can be just as meaningful as the subject itself.
Each of the photographs in this analysis is a black-and-white portrait of a man in his 70s. The first is a portrait of the Austrian zoologist Karl von Frisch taken in 1962 by the photographer Otto Steinert. The second is a portrait of the poet Ezra Pound, taken in 1958 by Richard Avedon for publication in Harper's Bazaar.
Karl von Frisch is best known for his discoveries about the behavior of honey bees. In the 1910s he discovered that bees have color vision, which he demonstrated using a simple test. Later on in the 1930s, he discovered that bees perform a dance to show other bees the direction and distance to food. He received the Nobel Prize in Physiology in 1973, along with Nikolaas Tinbergen and Konrad Lorenz.
Von Frisch is staring directly into the camera in this portrait. He may be seated or standing; only his head and shoulders can be seen. He is wearing a suit, but the frame cuts him off at the tie. The portrait was taken in front of a white backdrop. He is most likely being illuminated by a light to his left, as the right half of his face is in shadow. In this image, “the thing itself” could probably be said to be the subject himself.
Von Frisch's expression is somewhat grave. He appears to be weary of his photographer. His eyebrows are creased over his thin wire-frame glasses. His mouth is a flat line. There is an interesting play of shapes and lines in his expression. The lines around his mouth meet at an angle at the ridge of his nose and form a triangle with the horizontal line of his mouth. His eyeglasses are two circles that sit on either side of the triangle.
Von Frisch's eyes seem to barrel into the camera. He may be impatient for the photographer to finish taking his portrait. Since von Frisch was a university professor, he may be having his photograph taken along with the rest of the university faculty. He could be thinking about the next class he is going to teach or about his research. He is not enjoying the experience of being photographed, so he preoccupies himself with thoughts of other things.
The portrait of Ezra Pound is somewhat similar to the one of von Frisch. In this picture, the subject is also facing towards the camera. Again, the subject appears to be before a white backdrop and lit from the left. The frame crops the image beneath the neck and an inch from the edge of each shoulder.
However, there are some key differences. Pound's face is tilted slightly toward the ground, his head turned toward his right. His eyes are closed and his lips are parted. He is dressed not in a suit but in an unbuttoned dress shirt.
Pound is 72 or 73 years old in this picture, only a decade from death. The lines around his eyes and on his forehead are rippled like the surface of water. His expression is one of sadness and regret. He may be thinking about an event in his past. Pound had been a radio broadcaster during World War II. He was arrested for treason in Rome in 1945 and was transferred to the United States. This photograph was taken while he was still incarcerated.
Each of the photographs employs a vantage point that is eye level with the subject. They also use similar lighting techniques, such as lighting from the left to cast a shadow across half of the face. The images are cropped similarly so that the content consists of only the head and shoulders of the subject. The faces of both men are textured with lines and shapes. However, the photographs differ in the expressions of each man and in the meaning of their expressions.

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WePapers. (2020, November, 17) The Photographer's Eye Essay Example. Retrieved July 05, 2022, from https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-photographers-eye-essay-example/
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"The Photographer's Eye Essay Example." WePapers, Nov 17, 2020. Accessed July 05, 2022. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-photographers-eye-essay-example/
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"The Photographer's Eye Essay Example," Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com, 17-Nov-2020. [Online]. Available: https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-photographers-eye-essay-example/. [Accessed: 05-Jul-2022].
The Photographer's Eye Essay Example. Free Essay Examples - WePapers.com. https://www.wepapers.com/samples/the-photographers-eye-essay-example/. Published Nov 17, 2020. Accessed July 05, 2022.
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