By Stephen Harmon
The photographer who had the greatest influence on me was Walker Evans. Evans is probably best known for his work during the Depression, documenting the poverty-stricken farmers and sharecroppers in the South and the general rural life in that area. His photo of Allie May Burroughs is one of the most famous photos in the history of photography. That photo taught me how to make a portrait such as the ones I have posted here, as well as thousands of others I have made during my 50 years or more as a photographer.
Evans, in those Depression years, worked with a large-view camera yielding 8×10 negatives. He photographed buildings, stores, churches, advertising, movie posters, main streets in small towns, barber shops and roadside stands – just about anything that showed life with a straight-on style that said, “This is it.” I always try to achieve that style in images.
From 1938 into the early 1940s, Evans created a body of subway photos of “unguarded moments,” photographing people sitting across from him with a camera hidden in his coat. He was limited by the technology of the time. It was because of Evans that I have made similar, yet different, subway photos.
There is so much more I could say about Evans, but I don’t want to bore you. I am lucky to have seen his work, especially the photo of Main Street in Saratoga, which made me realize in the late 1960s, when I first saw Evans’s work in a book, that the world did not look like that anymore and the world I was living in would one day vanish. Hence my street photos from the late 1970s, 1980s and later still, an ongoing project.
I hope you find something to like.
Thank you for these
RE: “I hope you find something to like.”
SOMETHING ?…how about EVERYTHING !!
These are wonderful photos, especially the first (alone-together on a 70’s era subway) and the third (African-American mother and child)!
Agree about Walker Evans, but wish to also praise Dorothea Lange’s Depression-era work, esp. her famed “Migrant Mother”
Please keep up your great photography!
Steve, I like them all.
All are great!!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful work! Yes, the world looks different…but your photos also show that humanity endures!
Terrific. Thank you!
Wonderful! Would love to see more of your work.
These are exquisite
The pictures all show contented, even happy looking people, who seem to find their situations rather interesting. This is not how I remember the time. But they are great, great pictures
Great photos, I enjoyed them. What I do wonder is how one sifts through a large body of work to select a chosen few….. of course that will differ based on the goal, but every time…. It’s curious to me.
As for Walker Evans, how amazing a child in that time could even afford a camera, let alone use it.
Since I just read about his little govt PR assignment, I have to say – if the gov’t wanted to look like they were doing anything helpful for rural Southerners, NOT imposing Reconstruction on us would have been the place to start.
And while I def enjoyed the few of those photos that I just saw, I find that whole project a bit “quaint”. Mostly I guess because I already have quite a number of similar photos, and they are of my family and not of strangers (though I do not know the individuals, I certainly know the exhaustion and lack and yet a force of life that still knows joy) Soooooo…… he could’ve gotten an even bigger trove had he just used what others had already done!
I do miss the days when ALL photos were just a little more candid and a little less posed and artificial.
THANK YOU! PHOTOS ARE TERRIFIC!
Wonderful article. Thank you so much for the
Words and the ideas and …… the photos!
Photo #2: I see my man Haze is up on the Downtown Broadway Local.
wonderful photos. I’m just an amateur, and would love to try photographing people like this, but then you have to ask permission, and I’m to shy to do this.
Wish we knew the year each of these fabulous photos was taken. Wonderful images.
Fantastic! Special love for Vesuvio Bakery.