Berenice Abbott: A song of life

Berenice Abbott, It has to walk alone, 1951 Creative Camera, March, 1974, page 77

This brings me to the vast amateur field, and finally to the serious photographer .On the positive side. the amateur market presents the possibility for the development of a great democratic medium––photography by the many and for the many. It is also a potential source for the development of professional photographers. This vast potential is rich. uncultivated soil, but it can erode away if it is flooded with pictorialism. The amateurs imitate the pictorialists because this is the line of least resistance, and they delight the manufacturers with their prodigal use of film. paper, and cheap cameras. The result is a mass-production type of photography. limited in subject material, hackneyed in approach. But the serious photographer is a forgotten man. He is sorely in need of far-reaching improvements in all directions and over the entire field. He is living in a dynamic time and place, working with Model T cameras and outmoded sensitive materials. Photography does not stand by itself in a vacuum, it is linked on the one side to manufacturers of materials and on the other side to the distributors of the product. that is, to publishers, editors, business leaders, museum directors, and to the public. Unless they do their share of growing up to their responsibilities the photographer can languish or take up knitting. What we need of equipment is this: let is possess as good a structure as the real-life content that surrounds us. We need more simplifications to free us for seeing. And we need editors and publishers who will try to understand photography and who will live up to their responsibility to raise the general cultural level of our country which we, who love America, believe in for its great potential. We need a creative attitude on the part of the manufacturer, the distributor, and the consumer.

Living photography is positive in its approach, it sings a song of life––not death.

I should like to give a quotation from Goethe who was discussing a poet. Said Goethe: ‘He was a decided talent, without doubt, but he has the general sickness of the present day––subjectivity––and of that I would faun heal him’. Does not the very word ‘creative’ mean to build, to initiate, to give out, to act––rather than to be acted upon, to be subjective? Living photography builds up, does not tear down. It proclaims the dignity of man. Living photography is positive in its approach, it sings a song of life––not death.


2007-01-01 21:57:05



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Berenice Abbott: 1951 - the photo documentary
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