I just finished reading The Americans Introduction by Jack Kerouac and there are several aspects that really resonated with me. I will say it also made me google Robert Frank images and pull out some that really jumped out at me and I think in a lot of ways relate to some things I’m trying to incorporate into my own work; and I’ll talk about some of those in a few.
First of all when Jack talks about Frank’s work and how the people in his work “don’t editorialize or criticize or say anything but “this is the way we are in real life and if you don’t like it I don’t know anything about it ’cause I’m living my own life my way and may God bless us all, mebbe”….”if we deserve it”… ” Besides the descriptions of his photographers igniting a fierce desire to travel across the country photographing people, this particular part of the introduction really made me pause and think. I think that part of the reason that Frank’s work became so well known has to do with the authenticity of his subjects. In a lot of his work you feel like you are just peering into someones daily life and they do feel very much unapologetically themselves in the images; like he captured the real essence of that person/persons/etc. and not just a frozen image.
I think this concept is really relevant in today’s culture where our lives are so much entangled in social media and trying to make our lives seem so much cooler, artistic, and relevant than in fact they probably really are. It’s refreshing to feel something authentic in art work and I feel like soon there will be a surge towards showing our authentic and real lives in social media; not just the stylized version where we take artsy photos of our food, lattes, and so on.
I feel like this relates somewhat to my own work and the “rut” I got into when I tried too much to stylize my shoots and didn’t do enough of making it feel authentic or real. For example when I made the Dogs playing poker image it felt very much like an ad where someone was trying o sell me something. I think when I switched back to really just creating real life moments (maybe slightly exaggerated) they still felt authentic and like they were real life moments because they are reflections of things that happen in my real day -to -day life.
So when I was googling Frank’s work I ran across a few images that I really liked. This first one is one that I love because of the flag covering the face of the other person in the window.
I’m really drawn to images that seem to have a “creative” element such as something blocking a face or basically something that just isn’t a standard portrait that you’ve seen 80000 times. The more I thought about this image the more I feel like I like it because it relates to one of the elements I’m working toward in my Canis Sapiens series, of blocking parts of the human form so that (in my works case) it doesn’t take on too much of the focus.
I also pulled out many images that where shot through a window or had a frame within the frame type of look to them. That’s another thing I’m really drawn to in work and something I have plans to play around with in my own. I think it’s a cool concept and it makes the image have so much more depth because of the added layer a frame inside an image gives it. Here are some examples: