“André Kertész has two qualities that are essential for a great photographer: an insatiable curiosity about the world, about people, and about life, and a precise sense of form.” – Brassai
The next photographer I have decided to look at is Andre Kertesz as I came across his work in a book the other day and was left feeling really inspired by his style of photojournalism. Kertesz was a Hungarian photographer who is best known for pioneering what we now know as candid photography.
What made Kerteszs' photoessays so unique was the simplicity and abstract nature of his photographs, that were taken either close up or far away to isolate subjects. His photographs of the backs of or small details of people in the streets of Hungary and Paris show a disinterest he had in cities, unlike many other photographers. His images show us that he sought to show typical moments of people in the cultures he photographed.
This particular aspect of his work has made me think more about how to record occurrences and moments in relationships in different ways. As Kerteszs' photographs often look more graphical and abstract. The relationships captured often form the entire composition, giving a very psychological and subjective aspect to his work. His images are deceptively simple however; I read that the Editors of Life told him that his 'pictures talk too much.' This refers to how symbolic his photographs are and the messages of which are clearly well thought out. Yet his photographs are so ambiguous leaving you wondering what exactly is happening inside and outside of the frame and often asking questions about the ways people interact with one another.
“Seeing is not enough; you have to feel what you photograph” – Andre Kertesz
Kerteszs' photographs often bring a viewer in uncomfortably close. The photograph above for example of the woman with a hand on her shoulder is incredibly close up, making us think very much about this possessive gesture; possibly from her male partner. The anonymity of this other person makes this a rather haunting photograph yet this is a very quintessential action. It is the composition of this photograph that changes completely how we respond to this moment between these two people.
To me his photographs are about the holding a mirror up to every elements of the human experience allowing us to observe them closely. His work feels like a unique mix of documentary and abstract photography that allows us to view other people's lives in an introspective manner. The way he photographs people shows a real sensitivity he had as a photographer, as through disarming his subjects they often feel familiar to us.
Looking at Kerteszs' work has really allowed me to see just how broad documentary photography and photojournalism can be in its presentation. Kertesz captured human relationships in a very different manner to the other photographers I have looked at so far however his photographs say just as much about people and how they interact with one another.