ARTICLES AND WRITINGS BY ALAN AINSWORTH

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MODERNIST NARRATIVES IN JAZZ PHOTOGRAPHY 1920s-1960

ABSTRACT

A close affinity between jazz and photography developed in the first half of the twentieth century. Both art forms evolved their own distinctive modernist languages along broadly similar timeframes. While there were close personal relationships between jazz photographers and musicians, we need to look to the social and economic milieu of the city for an explanation of the affinity between the two which emerged.

 

The article explores the modernist narratives which emerged from the work of four key jazz photographers: Charles Peterson, whose documentary style revealed the nature of the 'preclassical' jazz community' Herman Leonard, who developed a modernist portraiture which elevated the status of the creative artist; William Claxton, who envisaged a form of jazz reportage which broadened our conception of jazz to embrace the jazz community; and Roy DeCarava who completed this process by locating jazz in the material context of the Harem community.

 

This article is available for free download HERE

 

 

 

 

A RETURN TO THE STREET: EXPRESSION AND DETERMINISM IN STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

 

ABSTRACT

Reinvigorated as its subject matter resonates with the aesthetic of the postmodern city, interest in street photography is widely spread and has grown significantly in recent years. 

 

Yet understanding of the characteristics and dynamics of street photography is far from complete. Accounts of street photography are largely descriptive; they lack historical and cultural sensitivity and fail to provide clear points of differentiation from documentary practice. To correct this, I propose a return to the street. I argue that situating the work of street photographers in the context of the street conceived as the site of distinct social processes will lead to deeper understanding. Key among these processes is the conscious exercise of human expression in the face of environmental constraint. This suggests a conception of street photography as a libertarian practice distanced from the reformist tendencies of documentary.

 

Applying this approach in a concrete case study I return to Southam Street, the site of a respected series of photographs produced by Roger Mayne between 1957-61, identifying elements of both documentary practice and street photographic aesthetic in this body of work.

 

This article is available for free download HERE

 

 

 

 

APPROACHES TO STREET PHOTOGRAPHY

 

ABSTRACT

Street photography has grown significantly in popularity but is not well defined.  It is suggested that street photography as a distinct genre can be traced to Colin Westerbeck’s book Bystander, which identified photographers working in the street tradition over the past 150 years. 

 

As a result, street photography has come to be defined through the objectives, practices and techniques of those photographers. From this approach, five descriptive accounts of street photography have emerged: as evocation of the street, the street as theatre, the role of the photographer in the street, the vocabulary of the street and the techniques of street photography.

 

The implications of these approaches is that some important street photography has been overlooked and the descriptions as a whole are decontextualised from the site of photographic production.

 

This article is available for free download HERE

 

 

 

 

KEY NAMES IN JAZZ PHOTOGRAPHY

 

ABSTRACT

This short booklet gives brief biographical and technical information about around forty photographers in the jazz tradition. These include the great names of the tradition like Charles Peterson, Herman Leonard, William Claxton, William Gottlieb, rRancis Wolff, Herb Snitzer and Jim Marshall, as well as others whose involvement in jazz might have been less concentrated but who nevertheless made a significant contribution to the genre.

 

This booklet is available for free download HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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