Life in the shadows

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Reflection, Revolving Door, Ernst Haas, New York 1975

I was recently given a series of books on photography published by Time-Life in the 1970’s. They feature work from some pioneering photographers who were pushing the boundaries of their practice at the time. One of them was Ernst Haas.

As soon as I came across his pictures I felt I had found a photographer with whom I shared similar eye. Shadows, shapes and reflections all feature heavily in his work and his desire to ‘create’ rather than ‘take’ a picture is a notion I can really relate to. In an interview he stated that photography “grew out of the compromise of a boy who desired to combine two goals—explorer or painter.” This certainly shows in the images that he created.

When you find familiarity in another’s work, it can be greatly reassuring to know that there is another who shared your artistic point of view. Without this reference, it’s easy to doubt if what you’re trying to capture is relevant or interesting. While everyone else seems to be following a particular trend or theme, you can start to wonder if perhaps you’re missing the point.

He took photos of many subjects over his career, but its his work on New York that really stands out for me. I’ve been steadily building a collection of my own abstract images centered on the urban landscape over the years. I’m hoping to put together a series one day although I’m not sure yet what format it would take. For now, here’s one that I took on a recent visit to Newcastle that I feel reflects my interest in his work.

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Author: alexjrankin

Journalism and short stories.

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