Sternfeld began taking photographs in having studied the colour theory of artists Johannes Itten and Josef Albers. Early work included street photography on small and medium format cameras. In Sternfeld followed in the footsteps of Robert Frank and embarked on a road-trip which traversed the United States. Taking an 8 x 10 inch camera with him, Sternfeld photographed the communities, culture, landscapes and quotidian life he encountered along the way. American Prospects is seen as a continuation of the American documentary tradition established in the s by Walker Evans and continued by Robert Frank twenty years later.
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Joel Sternfeld is one of the most important and influential photographers of this generation. Inspired by Robert Frank , Sternfeld hit the road in a small Volkswagon van for 3 years and traveled across America— seeking to capture the American landscape.
Leave your photos up to interpretation Joel Sternfeld. It closed them out. I feel this is enough information to give the viewer enough context, without giving away too much interpretation. This is a convention I have done to my images now too. One of his most famous images is of a farm market in McLean, Virginia, in which you see a helmeted fireman shopping for pumpkins, while you see his fellow firefighters fighting a fire just down the road.
Upon first glance, the image seems surreal. Stenfeld openly acknowledges what he is doing and how photographs have the power to manipulate the viewer. No individual photo explains anything. With a photograph, you are left with the same modes of interpretation as you are with a book.
You ask: what do we know about the author and their background? What do I know about the subject? Sternfeld moves forward, sharing how manipulation has always been a part of photography. Ansell Adams would slap a red filter on his lens, then spend three days burning and dodging in the dark room, making his prints.
Even the photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson, with all due respect to him, are notoriously burned and dodged. Because photography has a certain verisimilitude, it has gained a currency as truthful — but photographs have always been convincing lies. I think the mistake that a lot of photographers do in their images is to give away too much context or a background story in their captions. By telling too much information of a photograph, you close off the image.
It becomes less interesting or puzzling to the viewer. It is like a good movie. But if a director gave away all of his intentions— it would be a lot less fun for the viewers.
The photographs you take and share with the rest of the world are your personal interpretations of a scene. Street photography is all about our personal experiences in the world— and however we decide to present our images is a self-portrait of ourselves. Hit the road Joel Sternfeld. Exhausted Renegade Elephant. Woodland, Washington, June There has always been something romantic about a road trip, especially in America. Sometimes his trips took a few weeks to a month— other times he went an entire year straight.
Personally I went on a road trip across a lot America— from Michigan all the way down to Los Angeles, then up to Berkeley.
The trip was a truly amazing experience. My girlfriend Cindy and I were able to meet some incredible people along the way who showed us around and let us stay with them.
Not only that, but there is no better way to experience America than by car. Of course there were many less romantic things about this road trip— like driving for hours a day on the freeway it can get quite tedious. But the stops in-between our trip were always memorable, and it was amazing to see how big and vast America was. Takeaway point: I highly recommend going on any photography road trip, whether it be for a weekend, an entire week, or perhaps an entire month or even longer.
If you are lucky enough to live in Europe, you can drive across most of Western Europe in just a few days! During my road trip, I was able to take some interesting photographs along the way. But more than that, it was a great experience of self-discovery. I also loved the freedom and sense of adventure.
If you are interested in going on your own road trip— I wrote some tips on how to go on a road trip in this article: How to plan your own American Street Photography Road Trip. On landscapes Joel Sternfeld. Looking at landscape about what it reveals about the human moment, past, and the present human moment. I mean this is the surface of the earth, and what we do with it tells us an awful lot about ourselves. Street photography is also a lot about self-exploration.
They say something about humanity and American society at large. Takeaway point: I think that too many of us as street photographers tend to only shoot people. I used to be that way. I personally shoot a lot of urban landscapes here in Berkeley, without people in it. So I recommend you to try to go out and take your own hand at urban landscapes as well. Print out your photos Joel Sternfeld. We generally only see them on the computer monitor. However if we are working on projects or series, there is nothing better than printing them out and putting them on the floor— re-arranging them, pairing them, and sequencing them.
Overall I have had a good experience traveling with my iPad, and sequencing and editing my photos with photographers I trust in-person. So if you have never printed out your photos to edit, sequence, or arrange them— I highly recommend doing so. It is a lot of fun, and many famous photographers do this when putting together their books and projects. It yielded a lot more descriptive power— which added context and more meaning to the images.
He used Kodachromes for its sharpness and muted tones. Looking at a black and white photograph, you are already looking at a strange world. Color is the real world. The job of the color photographer is to provide some level of abstraction that can take the image out of the daily. The good thing about being a photographer in the early days of film was that you would generally choose one type of film and stick with it your entire career.
But I think the thing that plagues us now in digital is how there is too much flexibility in how we can post-process our images. This is one of the main reasons why I like to shoot in Kodak Portra for my color work: they look consistent. I also only shoot with a 35mm focal length, so all my photographs look more consistent. If you do shoot in digital— a good way to have a consistent look is to stick to presets.
I am a huge fan of presets, because they save you time in post-processing, and they also tend to look consistent. I would say when you are working on a certain project, book, or body of work— try to stick to one preset, and just make small adjustments from there. Pave your own path Joel Sternfeld. However as time went on— I think I am discovering more of my own personal voice by spending less time on social media, focusing on projects, and letting my images marinate for a long time often for around a year or longer.
Sternfeld in his work was also highly influenced by other photographers. When he majored in art at Dartmouth, he was fascinated by color photography. When he first started shooting in the late 60s and early 70s, he was constantly experimenting. He spent days walking around the streets of New York with his 35mm Leica and rolls of Kodachrome, trying to find his own style.
One of the biggest mistakes many of us do is to simply copy another photographer and never push forward to innovate. I think when you are starting off, it is good to imitate and copy other photographers whose work inspire you. This is what Renaissance painters and apprentices did— they simply copied their masters for many years, then went out and started to do their own thing. The problem that many of us do is we switch buses too often.
Use their work as a starting point— a blueprint. I then recommend working on projects or long-term series— staying consistent with a certain camera, film or style of post-processing , focal length, and a concept. Then by getting honest and critical feedback— you can eventually make a name for yourself. Conclusion Joel Sternfeld. I think we all struggle with finding our own unique voice and style— and we all have doubts about our own photography. But let us take the lead of Sternfeld by traveling, exploring ourselves, and our photography— and by thinking what we are trying to say through our work.
Eventually if we are persistent enough, we will find our destination. It is also where I got the excerpts for this article:.
Joel Sternfeld : American Prospects
Shares It is about a country convinced of its independence and freedom, but that when photographed appears chained to a set of principles and dreams powerfully manifested in its architecture and in the lives its people have chosen to lead. It is an unspeakable force, lurking invisibly, powerful, cultural, American. It is about a country convinced of its independence and freedom, but that when photographed appears chained to a set of principles and dreams powerfully manifested in its architecture and in the lives its people have chosen to lead. There is a lonely basketball goal in the desert, framed by gorgeous cliffs, a wet suburb under brooding skies, a pool littered with identical round floating objects beside which a man stands, his back to the camera, looking out over the desert beyond his house. There is a moose knee-deep in a marsh next to a virgin pine forest being photographed and admired by a dozen brightly dressed tourists, a pale woman posing in front of a trailer park with scrub-brush in the background. There are rocket ships at noon surrounded by acres of sand, and the wreckage left by disasters. There is a sand box overrun with miniature earth movers in the undeveloped land behind a subdivision, a collapsed elephant on a rural road surrounded by officials.
Why this drive to swallow the country whole-to know it as one knows a lover, to reveal its innermost essence—when it was born of many parts, a federation of different states place and mind? Perhaps it is the vastness of the undertaking that draws us in, the immensity of the task. Or perhaps it is because America is really a mirror, and in the process of describing it we cannot help but describe ourselves. If this is the case, what is at issue in books about America is not just the quality of observation, but the construction of history. When Tocqueville disembarked in New York in May , he was by no means the first foreigner to come to America seeking to discern its meaning through direct observation. He was merely more perceptive than his predecessors, and in the nine months that he and his companion, Gustave de Beaumont, journeyed across the breadth of the adolescent United States, he observed its character and prospects with an uncanny prescience.
Joel Sternfeld – American Prospects
Joel Sternfeld is one of the most important and influential photographers of this generation. Inspired by Robert Frank , Sternfeld hit the road in a small Volkswagon van for 3 years and traveled across America— seeking to capture the American landscape. Leave your photos up to interpretation Joel Sternfeld. It closed them out.