06 October 2013

Photographers Who Inspire Me:
Bill Brandt

Bill Brandt (born Hermann Wilhelm Brandt, 1904, Hamburg, Germany)
(died 1983, London, England)
Although born in Germany, Bill Brandt -- born Hermann Wilhelm Brandt to a British father and German mother -- is considered the quintessential British photographer. He captured all aspects of British life -- from dingy mining communities to high society -- like no other in the twentieth century. In his work, you find the perfect balance of powerful social commentary and ingenious artistic style.

He spent a considerable amount of time being treated for tuberculosis in a Swiss sanatorium, where he first showed an interest in photography. He began his career as a photographer on a 1926 trip to Vienna, where he ended up working and living for the next three years. In 1929 he left Vienna for Paris, where he spent three months working as a studio assistant to surrealist painter and photographer Man Ray. Evidently, he learnt something from the master, because a hint of the surreal permeates so much of his work. In 1932, he moved to London, where he began his lifelong love affair with England. 

It is Brandt's combination of poetic imagery and documentary photography that inspires me. Through his lens, he inspires us all to view the world around us with “a sense of wonder.” His work resonates with me deeply and although I would never attempt to replicate his style, he inspires me to create a style of my own. 

Campden Hill. May 1951. © Bill Brandt Archive
“A photographer must be prepared to catch and hold on to those elements which give distinction to the subject or lend it atmosphere.” 

The English At Home. 1940. © Bill Brandt Archive

"A feeling for composition is a great asset. I think it is very much a matter of instinct. It can perhaps be developed, but I doubt it can be learned. However, to achieve his best work, the young photographer must discover what really excites him visually. He must discover his own world."

Children in Sheffield. 1930. © Bill Brandt Archive
"It is the gift of seeing the life around them clearly and vividly, as something that is exciting in its own right. It is an innate gift, varying in intensity with the individual's temperament and environment."


No comments: