Monday, January 5, 2009

The Great Depression and the Modern Day Recession

The Great Depression had a huge impact on photography. More so than most people can remember or even know about. As well, photography played a vital role in The Great Depression. Roy Styker was an economist, government official, and photographer. Put in charge by Franklin Roosevelt, he lead the Farm Security Administration Stryker was known for his ability to get his photographers to deliver out-standing photographs. He made sure they had everything they needed to photograph the depression. They were well funded and had been given the proper instructions before shooting in their designated parts of the country. One thing I was taught when I studied The History of Photography in school, was Stryker would take a hole puncher and punch a whole through the negatives that he disapproved of. This may seem harsh, but I think it was a powerful learning experience. I admire Roy Stryker for his contributions and for having been the leader of such a remarkable group of photographers. Because of his work with the FSA I am very influenced and inspired by his movement.

Numbers: 164,000 developed negatives

77,000 different prints made

644 color photographs

Stryker had some impressive photographers working for him. Some of the most famous photographers we have come to know.

Dorothea Lange, Arthur Rothstein, Walker Evans, Ben Shahn, John Vachon, Marion Post Wolcott
Russell Lee, Jack Delano, Gordon Parks, John Collier Jr, Carl Mydans and Edwin and Louise Rosskam are the photographers that worked for Stryker.

The recession we are currently facing doesn't play a direct role on photography in a way similar to what was seen in 1935. The financial set backs we are facing today is prohibiting people from being out in the world and shooting. Tough times have brought about a decline in sales nation wide. As populated as our country is and with the tremendous amount of photographers in the world, professional to hobbyist, we wouldn't see a project of this magnitude either.

I have provided a list of names, given a few links, and a very brief introduction to the FSA and a piece of history you might not have known about. I hope that this piece of resource inspires you to create, document, and display photographs that will showcase the current events. I will end with one of my favorite photographs, by one of the photographers I admire most from the FSA.

Dorothea Lange: The Migrant Mother

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yikes! I just tried leaving a comment but was smacked down by blogger. Now I have enabled my cookies, so hopefully I do not get the double smackdown plus added data swiping.

So, I love the FSA photos. Two things that I especially adore are:
-you can search the archives ( by subject (say, "Holyoke" or "tobacco") and come up with nifty results.

-you can order prints of your favorites for a reasonable price (RC or fiber paper). Order info is also on the above site.
I have always wanted to order prints, but I am a loser and have not done so yet.