Chapter 2 & 3 Reading Assignment

Two photographers that I thought successfully showed painterly light and composition in their work are Walter Niedermayr and Ed Burtynsky.

In Walter Niedermayr’s Val Thorens II, we can see a photograph of a tourist landscape. The landscape is very colorful gives a warm feeling and a sensation of freedom. The overall photograph looks like a painting, since it is not in complete focus. The photographer also took this photo at a detached distance, which could also have incorporated the painterly quality.


Ed Burtynsky gives us an example of deadpan photography in his Oil Fields #13 photograph. This photograph also shows painterly qualities. Actually, it looks more like a painting than an actual photograph. I am not too sure how he achieved this in his photograph.


Deadpan photography became popular in the mid 1990’s. Charlotte Cotton defined deadpan photography as “a cool, detached and keenly sharp type of photography.” Basically, deadpan photography is demonstrating how a picture without any obvious emotion can get the audience to start thinking. Deadpan photography is very popular with portraits, since it is easier to express emotion with actual faces. However, deadpan photography is not limited to portraits. It can also be landscape  and architectural photography.  This changed the scale of photography, which was a significant part of deadpan photography. It was significant because it took photography into the same league as painting and installation art. The most regularly mentioned forefathers of deadpan photography are Albert Renger-Patsch, August Sander, and Erwin Blumenfeld.

I do think that deadpan photography is an important way of making images, because it has a sense of mystery. It keeps the audience thinking of why the photograph was taken in that manner, and what the subject of the photograph means. This also means that the audience will not just look at the photograph and walk away quickly. It keeps the audience looking at the photograph into detail.


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