Contemporary Photography in the USA by Michael Engler

The film of Michael Engler from the year 1982 showing the different methods of operation of photographers Harry Callahan, Mark Cohen, Robert Frank, Ralph Gibson, Duane Michals, Joel Meyerowitz, Stephen Shore, Garry Winogrand, Alfred Stieglitz, Lisette Model, Lee Friedlander, Thomas Roma.

The camera documents their different working methods, shows their techniques and follows them on the streets of New York and Los Angeles, as well as in the suburbs and the countryside.

The early significance of photography as an art form in the USA represents a historic axis in the film. This is particularly emphasized by the inclusion of two influential teachers and photographers, Harry Callahan and Lisette Model.

Harry Callahan
Lisette Model

The film has succeeded in documenting the specific individuality of fundamental representatives of modern American photography since the early 1950s.

This refers to both their methods of working and personal means of expression, as well as to their overall attitude toward photography.

Alfred Stieglitz
Ralph Gibson
Duane Michals

The common denominators among them are the immediate way in which they capture everyday reality and their efforts to allow people and things to speak for themselves.

For some, the matter at hand stands exclusively in the foreground, others strive to make reality transparent for subjects that common sense tells us is intangible.

Garry Winogrand
Joel Meyerowitz
Lee Friedlander
Mark Cohen

In each case the film succeeds in depicting the artistic principle as shown in the photos once again in the way the photographers are characterized via words and footage.

Robert Frank
Stephen Shore
Thomas Roma

This occurs accompanied by the distinct “feel” for each person’swork atmosphere.

The successful coupling of film footage and stills thereby proves to be an intriguing element.

Harry Callahan

Joel Meyerowitz

Mark Cohen

Garry Winogrand

The full documentary can be purchased or rent on Vimeo or on Michael Engler’s website.

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