Brassai. We went to Paris for a long weekend in 2003 and stayed in Montmartre. Photography was not the big hobby it is now for us both. However, nonetheless we climbed a lot of steps that weekend as we tried to reproduce Brassai’s famous photo of the steps of Montmartre – naturally we failed miserably but more than any other photo, it taught us the importance of strong blacks in a black and white image. Many regard Brassai as the father of Street photography.
“When you meet the man you see at once that he is equipped with no ordinary eyes,” comments writer Henry Miller on French photographer Brassai. And the sharpness of vision and depth of insight noted by Miller are revealed in Brassai’s lifelong photographic exploration of Paris—its people, places, and things. Brassai was a leading member of the French “school” of photography and he saw Paris as a subject of infinite grandeur, his photographs providing a sensitive and often extremely dramatic exploration of its people, its resplendent avenues, and endlessly intriguing byways. Brassai’s reputation was established with the publication of his first book, Paris de Nuit, now a modern classic. Some of the pictures in this book are sharply defined, brilliantly lit, while others capture the mistiness of rainy nights. Still others concentrate on the shadowy life of the underworld.
As Brassai created more and more pictures of Parisian life, his fame became international. His pictures of “Graffiti” (writings and drawings scribbled by countless individuals on the crumbling walls of buildings) were the subject of his one – man show at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Brassai has indicated something of his reason for making these pictures in the following statement: “the thing that is magnificent about photography is that it can produce images that incite emotion based on the subject matter alone.”
Brassai has said many useful things about photography; one of the most valuable is the following statement: “We should try, without creasing to tear ourselves constantly by leaving our subjects and even photography itself from time to time, in order that we may come back to them with reawakened zest, with the virginal eye. That is the most precious thing we can possess”. (Taken from www.photo-seminars.com)