Photography, Technology, and Eddie Adams

photo history blog post about eddie adams

After one afternoon of perusing blogs and social news feeds and sites like Buzzfeed and Photojojo, the cohorts here at Tilt Shift found a nice list of recommended movies for or those photographers who can’t get enough of lens on lens action.

Two from the list stand out (of the 80% left still to watch): The Mexican Suitcase and An Unlikely Weapon: The Eddie Adams Story.

Movies of behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with passionate photographers, especially those who have already made an impact on how we recall our history, always reinforce the humanitarian value or bias, depending on who you ask. Ones already imprinted in memory are Fur, the story about Diane Arbus, Dorothea Lange’s A Visual Life, and a plethora of Edward Weston, Joel-Peter Witkin, and Robert Maplethorpe.

These types of films enlighten the personality of the person behind the camera and provide the human side of what some may consider a very one-sided medium. It calls into question photography’s inherent sense of self and self-reflection while also critiquing photographs as an “impartial, objective view”. Photography as windows and mirrors, so eloquently deduced by John Szarkowski.

But what’s so seductive is that while history can be learned visually, the narratives are what carry the true meaning in a photograph. Combined with narratives from multiple perspectives, the photographs communicate the human story in an emotionally compelling way and demonstrate the power photography holds to influence us as a whole. These films provide context for the photographs because despite the evidence documented in the images, the memories fade away with the people who can describe them.

Watch the films if you haven’t already and please leave comments describing your impressions. Have these impressions changed? How does knowing the photographer’s side of the story enlighten your understanding of the content in their images?

Next movie on the list: In Robert Frank’s Footsteps: An American Journey

Recommended watches for just plain everybody: Beauty is Embarrassing by Wayne White