This time around we have decided to breakdown some groundbreaking work from our masters of photography. Analyzing some iconic photographs would be one of interesting aspects of photography, for it provides an in-depth analysis and idea to all the aspirants in this field. It helps us to know what made this particular picture a sensation besides it is a great opportunity for all amateurs to learn from a picture which has already a winning one.
Here in this part 1 of this chapter, I have handpicked some of the most strongest pictures of this century from the grand masters. To add more on this, if you would like any great picture to be analyzed please add it in the message section to see it featured in Part 2.
From the editors point of view, it feels great to speak about the aesthetic and appealing factors in these iconic photographs.
Dust Storm by Steve McCurry
Dust storm in Jaisalmer by Steve McCurry. Ladies gathered in a group to stay together during tough times of the dust storm, all in vibrant red traditional Rajasthani costumes. Balanced in middle of a vertical frame with trees dancing in background to the song of storm. The Energy of nature is felt flowing in this photograph. This is lively, the count of 6 trees balancing the heads of visible 6 ladies and the pattern at which they all fall in place inside the picture is phenomenal. The Least said, the pots in the foreground close to the viewers eye is the x factor in this picture. It creates the space, the dimension in 3D, a perfect balancing composition to a masterpiece photograph.
© Steve McCurry
Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange
Migrant Mother is one of the most iconic pictures in our history by Dorothea Lange, taken while covering migratory farm workers in California in 1936. Strong emotions all over the frame, the gesture by the mother, her least interest towards the photographer makes it even more dramatic, a sense of reality just before your eyes. The kids turning the faces away creates a wonderful perspective to the picture and brings more dominance into the sorrows of mother here. The Questions and the very act of survival and dependency. The Baby close to her sleeping poignantly creates more uncertainty within their lives and adds much to the mood and trauma of the mother.
© Dorothea Lange
The Var department. Hyères by Henri Cartier-Bresson
A brilliant picture from our father of modern photojournalism Henri Cartier-Bresson. The Decisive moment, a term coined by the master himself is much precious in this picture. He could have pressed the shutter anytime before but to know the space the frame has got to offer and the visual balance had called for Bresson to nail it perfectly. The Steps in stairway creates a wonderful alignment to the picture, making the viewer leap out from the balcony. The Master stroke is the slight blur in the rider which creates the energy pattern flowing inside this composition. There is shapes and Silence everywhere around you and then you see a guy riding a Bicycle. An Utter brilliance and my personal favorite from Bresson.
© Henri Cartier-Bresson
Eiffel tower 100th anniversary by Elliott Erwitt
It is a well known fact that most of our Elliot Erwitt’s pictures tend to have humour in them with a perfect blend of feel good factor and creativity. Here in this picture weather plays a vital part by creating a mood and wanting for umbrellas. The Leap of Joy from the guy in the foreground against the backdrop of Eiffel Tower is extremely strong and makes us feel in the location. The brilliance doesn’t end there, to balance the composition and add more elements of interest, we see a couple sharing some lighter moment in the mid-ground, the umbrellas flipped to the swiftness of wind is extremely poetic and answers us why this picture is still rejoiced.
© Elliott Erwitt
Refugees in the Korem camp Ethiopia by Sebastião Salgado
Sebastiao Salgado is known for his stark and strong monochromatic portraits. This picture taken on the refugees in Korem Camp, Ethiopia. The Statures of each character inside the frame, the blanket they are surrounded with and the distance at which they have gathered inside the frame creates a sense of doubtfulness and signs of chaos in their lives. The Child close to the viewer starring down and the mother looking away from the direction of her husband created a perfect symmetry inside the frame. The Mysterious landscapes at the background and a last character walking away from this picture towards the never never land created a fear and trauma inside us to feel for the condition of these refugees.
© Sebastião Salgado
Women and Kali along Ganga river by Raghu Rai
Raghu Rai took up Photography accidentally and later became one of the greatest photographers from India. This picture of woman, Kali the goddess and a cow on the banks of ganga river shows nothing but his brilliance. Looking at the picture, the leaves of banyan tree gently flowing inside the frame, and a distant boatman sailing his boat into the mighty Ganges are perfect examples of flow of energy inside a picture. The goddess statues on the left, a silent cow posing from behind the tree & the Woman highlighted in white standing amidst all these versatile lives is a touch of masterclass from Raghu Rai. He likes to create more and more interestingness inside a frame and the master has achieved it perfectly here.
© Raghu Rai
Famine Victim by James Nachtwey
A Victim of Famine in Sudan by James Nachtwey. One of the most strongest pictures created by James. This Picture takes us to a utter sense of shock for the condition of a fellow human being somewhere in a remote village in Africa. Moving forward & Speaking about the technical and translational part of it, there is always a sense for art prevailing in most of his pictures which is absolutely the toughest thing to do when to witness something tragic and horrific. The Spinal cord of the man, with almost his bone structure protruding from his skin shows the geometry and the water flow in his hand with his face turned away from us makes us skip a beat. Tragedy all over the frame but still a smart sense of art from James makes it very disturbing and heartfelt.
© James Nachtwey
Different Directions by Fan Ho
The Master of Light and Shadows, Fan Ho is a master craftsman when it comes to street photography involving light and shadows. A Magician by all means here has captured a simple street scene with play of light. Assuming it to be taken from inside a tram, right from the shadows of the rickshaw puller to the distant far behind man walking in-between the vertical lines creates a delicate balance in the geometry of this iconic picture. A group of people on the mid ground against a playful kid hoping towards the frame left is a signature touch to this brilliant composition. The Energy is very evident and the characters tend to show the busy lives on the streets all along with some super interplay of light and shadows.
© Fan Ho
Family Pictures by Sally Mann
Sally Mann known for some controversial fine-art portraits of her children. she strongly believes that it is the people very close to you who can be photographed better. In this beautiful fine-art picture, her daughter is seen posing delicately. Excellent toning to this masterpiece with perfect light and her hand gesture around her hips brings a great sense of balance to this picture. The Master touch here is the girls plait which is circular, it creates a grand pattern inside a silent frame. Her Bones and the white wear all brings a phenomenal silence and mood in this picture.
© Sally Mann
Ashes and Snow by Gregory Colbert
Gregory Colbert has produced some unbelievable images in his world famous photo series Ashes and Snow. In this particular picture, he continues to press harder on the relationship between Mankind and the animal kingdom. A mother her child and a pair of cheetahs. There seems to be an endless conversation between the mother and cheetah, whereas the child and the other cheetah seems to turn around their faces away. The Master stroke here is Gregory’s rendition of the mother nature, the circular pattern of love and it after all doesn’t take much time for us to understand that kid is also connected with the cheetah. Pure Brilliance from the Photographer.
© Gregory Colbert