Paul Strand while looking for his photographic voice, stumbled upon what would later evolve into "Straight Photography". In the constand battle with the mainstream art world, photographers were trying to justify how photography could be art. Most people saw it as a science hence no ability was required on the part of the photographer. So long as you understood the scientific process you could capture nature. This lead to the Pictorialist movement where photographers would heavily manipulate their images to add artistic flare.
Straight Photography was a movement to go back to the unaltered photograph as art. The simple play on light, shapes and tonality should be enough to make a work of art. I see a great deal of photographers turn to simplicity as a way to describe emotions with objects and light. The image above is just such a photograph. Post processing is very basic on this image with a simple, underexposed image of a stairwell. The main protagonist is light and shadow. There is no story to be told.
The old wrought iron railing, stone steps and the imperfect wall are the only things visible in the image. The light was coming through a very small window in the tower that was built as a monument to the Great London Fire. It is about 400 steps to the top and things get very dark up the stairs. I was not after the telling of a story, nor was I interested in a grand gesture to make the picture. I wanted to capture an emotion. Dark, sturdy, timeless and imprisoning. Photography can do that. A simple image with a mirage of emotions.
On the other end of the spectrum you have the story telling nature of photography. There is an old saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. A photo that is taken in 1/60th of a second can transmit a story by allowing the viewer to fill in the before and after of the image. Or, as in the case of the image above, it links two seperate stories onto single story board.
The Muslim mother and daughter taking an image of a military guard under inspection. The daughter seems to be hiding behind her mother, looking over he shoulder at the cell phone being used as a camera. In the photo there is a gate that seperates them but the photograph forces the viewer to see the cultural divide more so than a simple gate.
The two photographs are essentially the same in that they are the same size, shot with the same camera and by the same photographer on the same day. The facinating thing is that the two images could not be more different in styles, message and content. The fact that I can tell both using the same medium still amazes me.