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Sunday, April 02, 2006

Things as They Are

By John Kennerdell

This will be old news for many of you in Europe, where the show opened and the book came out last fall. But it looks as if the U.S. edition of Things as They Are: Photojournalism in Context Since 1955 has finally arrived. The New York Times made it sound imminent in an article last week, and now has it listed in stock.

Commissioned by World Press Photo to mark its 50th anniversary, the book brings together over 100 outstanding magazine and newspaper features, all reproduced from their original sources at somewhat smaller size. They trace the PJ mainstream from Cartier-Bresson and Eugene Smith to Salgado and Nachtwey, with some intriguing side trips by the likes of Robert Frank, Diane Arbus, and Martin Parr. It’s an embarrassment of riches, fascinating and essential for anyone with any interest in the journalistic side of photography. The European edition has already won the International Center of Photography’s award for best publication of 2005.

P.S. Apropos of HCB’s lens choices, check out the great 1955 shot of the crowds in Red Square in the book’s first story. If that’s not at least a 90mm I’ll eat my Leica lens cap. (Paris Match seems to have had reason to think so too: the caption reads “Au téléobjectif le cœur même de la capitale”—a telephoto view of the very heart of the capital.)



Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you read John Wesley Brenner's story abut HC-B and the old woman with the American flag, it appears that it was shot with his 90mm. Incidentally, if you look carefully at the picture, you'll see that she has sewing stuff in her hands, and that is the reason that it's hung over her neck -- to hold it while she repairs it.

7:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That comment should have read John Malcolm Brinnin (in his book "Sextet." Sorry

9:22 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

I feel sure I've read the relevant passages from Brinnin in excerpt, but I can't remember where. It's not in Goldberg or "Photography Speaks" or Petruck...

9:31 PM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Was it in "America in Passing" itself?

9:32 PM  
Blogger Mike78 said...

I thought I knew 'enough' about HCB to even hold a conversation with so-called "photographers" around my way, (NJ). Yet the P.S. piece in this article posted by John K. along with an earlier article you posted titled: Shadow list: Number 7. (Is Jim Hughes Busy?) about HCB makes me wonder. Out of all the HCB material I have covered (which is probably not much compared to you guys) on the web, in magazines, and books, they all claim that HCB only used a 50mm lens, when in fact you guys have pointed out significant observations in HCB's choice of focal lengths for the above mentioned shots that were NOT 50mm... Are these sources just misinformed? Or did they not do their homework?

12:07 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

I toured Magnum New York in the company of Erich Hartmann, father of my friend Nick and a longtime Magnum photographer who knew Henri well. He told me that Henri generally carried a 35, 50, and 90, but said something to the effect that he seldom used the 90 and almost never used the 35. Erich let me look through several of HCB's proof books, at random, and it certainly appeared that his use of any lens but a 50mm was very rare. I think it's accurate to say that he used a 50mm a great majority of the time but not strictly exclusively.


1:08 AM  
Blogger akikana said...

I'm no expert on Leica lenses but... on page 383 of Elliott Erwitt's Snaps HCB has a Leica draped provactively over his shoulder with something attached that seems much longer than a 50.

7:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mike, Brinnin's book "Sextet" devotes an entire chapter to HC-B and their disasterous trip together across the county. It's in most large libraries.

8:58 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Yes, I know, but I'm just saying I'm sure I've read J.M. Brinnin's account anthologized somewhere other than in "Sextet," and now I can't remember where.

I hate it when that happens. A memory is a terrible thing to lose....


11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


4:08 PM  
Blogger Dave Jenkins said...

Mike, you're thinking of a major article in the January/February, 1982 edition of the original (and beautiful) Camera Arts magazine, in which Brinnin told of his trip across the U.S. with Cartier-Bresson in 1947.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Mike Johnston said...

Hi there Dave--long time no hear from--and thank you, thank you, thank you. This has been driving me CRAZY. I just heard from Jim Hughes, too! Mystery solved.

All best,


7:09 AM  

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