On Bill Bradts’ work by David Campany
Campany starts by telling us that the photographic document is a ‘shape shifter’ and mostly able to be re-contextualised and therefore allocated a different meaning.
The essay by Camapany looks closely at the particular body of work by Brandt ‘The English at home’. The aim of the photo project by Brandt appeared to be an investigation into class division and inequality. Wether this was his actual intention I do not know. Campany states that Brandt was more at home in the genre of surrealism as opposed to documentary. However, this body of work, although not appreciated at the time, did gain recognition in later years. Brandt himself was sceptical of the use of photography for showing social issues in their fullness. Perhaps for this reason he was more at home in the surrealist camp?
However, as Campany states:
“For him to photograph these minutiae was not simply to document but to estrange through a heightened sense of atmosphere, theatrical artifice and dreamlike sensibility” (Campany, no date) .
Brandt was of the wealthy classes and used some images from his own family settings as part of some of his picture essay work. Later down the line in Brandt’s career, he appeared to turn away from the documentary style work to focus more on expressionism. One has the sense that this was his more natural domain in image making.
Black and white photography
Black and white photography appears to of been the dominant form in the 40’s and hence is we are discussing the use of this type of work then this is because as yet colour photography was still not a fully expected presentation style.
To be taken seriously at a particular point in the history of photography one had to produce in black and white. Colour was the domain of commercial and advertising photography. The subject matter of documentary which had as its premise the objective documenting of the external world, gave credence and authority to black and white photos as ‘authorised documents’ (Wells, 1996) .
- Campany, D. The career of a photographer, the career of a photograph (date unknown) [online] https://www.oca-student.com/sites/default/files/Campany_BillBrandt.pdf [accessed December, 2019]
- Wells, L. Photography a critical introduction (1996: 111-112) Routledge.