America, seen through photographs, darkly

As the title suggests, the author follows the development of photographic subject matter over time. She says that in the beginning, photographs were expected to be “perfect” and show the best side of an already beautiful subject. From here a photographer named Whitman argued that photographs should capture beauty in the mundane, and sought to bring out the best of “trivial” subject matter such as the daily lives of ordinary Americans. The author then discusses the work of Diane Arbus, which comprises the bulk of the article. The author argues that Arbus’ work, which sought to shock viewers by capturing the ugly and freakish people of America, was in fact not so different from Whitman’s approach in that it suggests a common experience among humans, albeit a pessimistic one.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s