Black and White Photos of People at Work

©ourtesy of Canoe Communications’s Blog

Lewis Hine, 1874 – 1940, Oshkosh, Wisconsin, “During and after World War I, he photographed American Red Cross relief work in Europe. In the 1920s and early 1930s, Hine made a series of “work portraits,” which emphasized the human contribution to modern industry. In 1930, Hine was commissioned to document the construction of The Empire State Building.” Wikipedia

Yesterday was the 100th birthday of famous French photographer Robert Doisneau, known for his Parisian street scenes. Old black and white photographs are historical images of a particular time, event or place.  Black and white photography highlights contrast, depth and texture.  It continues to be a popular medium and art form. Doisneau’s photography made me think about photographers born in the Midwest that shot in black and white.  I did a little research and discovered the work of photographers that were completely new to me.  Maybe they are new to you too. There were many excellent photographers’ pictures, I focused on images taken of people at work.  The seven photographers from America’s heartland are:  Berenice Abbott, Esther Bubley, Lewis HineBob Natkin, Gordon ParksWalker Evans, and Russell Lee. If you know about other famous Midwestern photographers that worked in black and white, feel free to share.

Berenice Abbott, 1898 – 1991, born in Springfield, Ohio, “Abbott first became involved with photography in 1923, when Man Ray, looking for somebody who knew nothing about photography and thus would do as he said, hired her as a darkroom assistant at his portrait studio in Montparnasse. Later she would write: I took to photography like a duck to water. I never wanted to do anything else.” Wikipedia

Esther Bubley, 1921 – 1998, born in Phillips, Wisconsin, “A protégée of Roy Stryker at the U.S. Office of War Information and subsequently at Standard Oil (New Jersey), Esther Bubley (1921-1998) was a preeminent freelance photographer during the ‘golden age’ of American photojournalism, from 1945 to 1965.”

Bob Natkin, 1919 – 1996, born in Chicago, Illinois, “At age 21 he was drafted and abruptly went from being a student in pre-med to being an Air Force gunner photographer during World War II.  Afterwards, Natkin became a professional photographer, primarily capturing people in their environments all over his beloved Chicago. ” Stephen Daiter Gallery

Walker Evans, 1903 – 1975, born in St. Louis, Missouri, ”For fifty years, from the late 1920s to the early 1970s, Evans recorded the American scene with the nuance of a poet and the precision of a surgeon, creating an encyclopedic visual catalogue of modern America in the making,” Metroplitan Museum Art.

Gordon Parks, 1912 – 2006, born in Fort Scott, Kansas, “The photographer, filmmaker, writer and composer who used his prodigious, largely self-taught talents to chronicle the African-American experience and to retell his own personal history.” New York Times

Russell Lee, 1903 – 1986, born in Ottawa, Illinois. “Trained as a chemical engineer and a painter, he took his first photographs in 1935. He worked for the Farm Security Administration from 1936 to 1942 and remained active in the field of documentary photography until 1977. Lee, who enjoyed a reputation for technical excellence and sensitivity to his subjects. ” Texas Archival Resources


2 responses to “Black and White Photos of People at Work

  1. wonderful photos; thanks!


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