American Modernism in Photos

American Modernism in Photos

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

Over the years, even over the centuries, there have been many artistic, and philosophical movements that have expressed their way of thinking through an art form which eventually came to be representational of the movement.

American modernism is no different. However this photo adventure entertains doing a series of pictures featuring some samples of this movement.

The best thing is that you really do not have to paint anything or create any art. You simply have to find suitable subjects. But this may be easier said than done.

It helps if you can get your hands on authentic American Modernism art samples like paintings but in reality you can add your own variations and capture images that fit the mold as they say.


"American modernism, like modernism in general, is a trend of thought that affirms the power of human beings to create, improve, and reshape their environment, with the aid of scientific knowledge, technology and practical experimentation, and is thus in its essence both progressive and optimistic. American modernism is an artistic and cultural movement in the United States starting at the turn of the 20th century with its core period between World War I and World War II and continuing into the 21st century." Wikipdeia

The idea is pretty straight forward and does not really requires any fancy gear other than your camera, a prime lens and a tripod.

Since the subjects will be "standing still" and probably be located somewhere with a decent amount of light, you can take your time, compose the shot and then snap the shutter.

Another side of the coin is that many subjects may be found in museums , galleries or any other place where photography might not be allowed. In this case you have to think outside the box and look for other subjects that can be photographed.

Commercial advertisements are probably your best source of subject matter but do not overlook some graffiti as they may sometimes fit the bill.

But you really need to research the movement well and become familiar with the artistic style in order to make a good sound selection when looking for subjects that can at least approximate the style.

Baixa-Chiado Station Underground Access/Chiado, Lisbon, Portugal

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Do not think only of paintings or sculptures. American modernism expands into architectural works and these are not only usually very nice to look at but can be easily photographed. Take the opportunity to research your part of the world for samples and go take their pictures. Even if true samples are not accessible at least look for others that may be similar in style.

For paintings the better approach is to take a picture straight on like as if you were standing in a gallery looking at it the way it was meant to be seen. Avoid using flash since it may reflect of the surface and this is why you need a tripod; to avoid capturing motion and this can be as simple as the movement created when you manually depress the shutter on the camera.

For sculptures the best thing to do is to take pictures at different angles and from different perspectives since being a three dimensional work it is meant to be seen from various angles. Try to also avoid using flash since the same refection may be present just like when taking a picture of a painting.

Using flash may be the correct thing to do when capturing images of architectural structures since they may feature angles or be located in a place where shadows may obscure some proportions of it. For these subjects you should use either a wide angle lens if the structure is large or a prime lens if it is small.

Always try various angles and various perspectives to have a good size compilation of images so that you can judge the best ones and carefully compile a good array of samples.

Regardless of which subject matter you choose, try to get images that are different from others you may have seen as this will give the pictures your own personal touch.


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These pictures do not have a ready made market but they are good when used in a book featuring this particular style and good for either personal reasons or simply because someone may buy the book for its aesthetic value or even to be used by someone who is focused on making a researcher work or a work featuring the artistic movement of the period.

If you want to go ahead and involve yourself in such a project from a commercial standpoint better do some research and approach potential clients. That way you have an idea of what it is that they are looking for and this can help you make a sale

Marc Chagall, America Windows, detail, Art Institute Chicago

(CC BY 2.0
(CC BY 2.0 | Source

The Photo Shows One of Utzon's Unbuilt Post-sydney Works, Subterranean Theatre, Jeita Grotto, Lebanon 1968. Architect: Jørn Utzon, 1918-2008.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

© 2015 Luis E Gonzalez

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