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French philosopher

The photograph as visual a visual document may be Victorian “snapshots” or cartes-de-visite, studies in motion by Muybridge, or Atget’s Parisian street scenes. Select a photographer, perhaps Eugene Atget, Gordon Parks, August Sander, Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange, Robert Frank, Lewis Hine, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, or another, whose work demonstrates the concept of the photograph as a document. When and where did the photographer make the images? For what purpose? Who was the intended audience? Using specific examples, explain how the photographs fit the definition of “document” as it applies to photography.

After reading the articles concerning the validity of digital images, do we “read” visual documents differently today?

As with all essays, your information needs to be cited within the text (including citing all images) and include a works cited in either a MPA or APA format. I am looking for quality writing, and would assume that your essay should be at least two pages (aside from any inserted images).

Photographs can be used as a document to illustrate the real life examples of the changes that happen in the society. Specifically, the traditional photographs were more real in documenting the society since technologies of editing images was not available. In this regard, these traditional photographs, such as those of Atget, were real documentation of the happenings and events during their time. 

Atget was a French philosopher who was a pioneer in taking street photography who left landmark with his works. Most of these pictures were documented and are available before the disappearance of modernization. His photographic ideals helped to promote surrealistic ideals such that his genius is still recognized to date. He began his photographic career in the street of Paris and left a rich legacy that is still experienced to date. Most of his jobs inspired enough passion and hustle from most people who found opportunity to look at his photos. His photographic skill is the strong vision that enabled him to take more than 8,000 within very few years (Barberi, 2005). Most photos taken by Atget were meant to benefit the society in several ways and thus were a documentation of his immediate society. This is the reason why he decided dispose most of his photos to the members of the society. He is also quoted saying that the purpose of taking photos is to benefit the society one way or the other. In order to benefit the society with his photos, Atgen decided to create aesthetically beautiful street photos that are attractive to the members of the society. Atgen was heavily involved in capturing socially conscious street photographs that paints the socio cultural happenings in the society. He was therefore successful in creating images that make bold statements of their surroundings and to leave a long lasting impact to their users.

Atgen street photography 1927, Source (Barberi, 2005)

The motive of taking photos that benefit the society enabled Atget to take photos only at strategic points to help him portray the socio cultural information. The motive of Atget to benefit the society enabled him to focus on the realities that surrounded various sectors of the society. His images were captured such that the audience could easily interpret the realities being portrayed by such images.  Therefore, he projected his images such that he avoided intrusion between the image and the observer. Since he did not romanticize his subjects, he shot his images such that he avoided fancy tricks and gimmicks. While walking in the streets, Atget looked at objects with fascinating curiosity in order to figure out the realities that existed in them. In order to portray the realities in life, he focused his images with calculated aperture while holding his breath. This enabled him to capture realities as they existed in the society. When it comes to photographer, the photographer has the power of making them beautiful and fascinating.

Atget street photography 1898, Source (Barberi, 2005)

Despite famous landmarks and monumental buildings, Atget somehow avoided them and captured the real events that happened in the streets (Barberie, 2005). While traveling in the streets or the natural environments, it was easy for Agtet to capture iconic landmarks.


Barberie, P (2005). “Looking at Atget” Yale University Press

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