Robert Frank (1924-2019)

The Swiss born American photographer, Robert Frank died yesterday at his summer home in Nova Scotia. His photography not only had a great influence on street photography and photography in general, but also on the way that we see America.

Robert Frank, New York City, May 27, 2019

Frank is perhaps best known for his book The Americans with 83 photos that present the viewer with some of the most iconic images of Americans. It’s impossible for me to see a black and white photo of an American flag without thinking of Frank. He presented us with a radical vision of who we are.

I was very fortunate to meet Frank this year outside of his apartment on Bleecker Street here in New York City. I thanked him for his contribution to photography and asked him if I could take the photo that is included here. We shook hands.

His work will be remembered and admired for generations to come. If you’re not familiar with his work there is much to discover. I hope that you will find it as illuminating about American culture as do I.

Photographer Profile – Robert Frank

Photographer Profile – Robert Frank
Robert Frank (1924- ) If you haven’t seen his book The Americans, run out an buy a copy or borrow it from the library! It is an amazing collection of photos that has changed the definition of photography in general and more specifically street photography.
Frank is Swiss by birth and has been living in the US most of his life. He emigrated to the US at 22 and became a fashion photographer at Harper’s Bazaar in New York City. But he wanted to do more with his photography. He spent 2 years traveling and took 28,000 photos for The Americans which includes 83 of those photos. It is a series which is iconically American. Perhaps the fact that he was new to America had something to do with his uncanny ability to recognize that which truly is American. We often take for granted the things that seem so familiar to us. To turn the ordinary into the extraordinary is the definition of art.
Many of his photos break some of the unwritten rules of photography. He does things with photography that were new and novel at the time. And his photography is still very relevant. I am always inspired when looking at his work. Oh and by the way, The Americans is published by the incredible Steidl press. You can see a streaming documentary about Steidl which includes segments on working with Robert Frank in creating The Americans as well as a number of other photographers. I hope that you will have a look at his work.
From Issue 9 of the Shoot New York City Newsletter. You can subscribe here.