Robert Frank, Martin Parr and William Klein have recorded aspects of their society in different ways. They have presented collections of images that express a personal view. refer to appropriate examples and create your own work which expresses a personal view of society.
_Robert Frank is one of the world's most influential photographers. For more than fifty years, he has broken the rules of photography and film making, challenging the boundaries between the still and the moving image. In 1996, he was presented with the Hasselblad Award, for his contribution to the development of post war-photography. This exhibition is the first major exploration of his work to take place in the UK. From 1949 onwards, Frank started to take pictures which reflected his search for artistic freedom and he travelled to numerous locations in South America and Europe shooting stories which revolutionised the expressive potential of the medium. The earliest, Peru (1949) features works taken whilst the young Frank travelled around this captivating country. The London series (1951-52) offers a rare and charming insight into a bygone era in the capital's history, whilst Wales (1953) focuses on one miner and his family as they struggle with the harsh realities of life in a remote mining village.
In 1954, Frank began a road-trip across the States. The resulting book The Americans radically changed the language of photographic narrative.
_Throughout his career Parr has concentrated on the ordinary and the everyday and this has led to considerable controversy about how his work should be taken. How does he view the subjects of his photos? What is he actually saying about the daytrippers in the New Brighton fish and chip shop? He comments: "The criticism came not from within Merseyside because the photos were immediately shown at the Open Eye photographic gallery in Liverpool and people went in, and they said, 'this is what it's like' but as soon as the same pictures came south to London people were up in arms and said this was exploiting the working classes because they (the critics) were not aware of what life is like in the north.
"Of course, New Brighton is very shabby, very rundown, but people still go there because it's the place where you take kids out on a Sunday. That's where the funfair is and it's still a treat but it has this backdrop of litter and grot which of course lends itself to photography, and I was pretty aware of that."
Complaints about the photographer as a social tourist are not new. He says: "Photography is by its nature exploitative. It's whether you use this process with a sense of responsibility or not. I feel that I do so. My conscience is clear."
He adds: "I'm always outside of things but I'm part of things to. Criticism is hypocrisy, society is hypocrisy. I'm a tourist. I'm a consumer. I do the things that I photograph and can be criticized of." After The Last Resort Parr moved down south to Bristol to look at the upwardly mobile - it was the Thatcher years!
One recent project is of people on mobile phones throughout the world: "Part of what I am doing now is to document the homogenization of the world. When I started out as a photographer in the days of innocence in the early seventies I was almost celebrating life, now I'm a critic of it so that's how my role has changed but, you know, the world had changed enormously in that time as well so I feel that it is correct that I approach to the subject matter."
Parr says if he has one motto it is the celebration of the ordinary and the everyday: "I think the ordinary is a very under-exploited aspect of our lives because it is so familiar."
Text by John Heilpern, profile from William Klein: Photographs
"William Klein's pictures, like Klein himself, never quite seemed to belong. Perhaps in his dreams he secretly wanted them to, feeling it unjust that his work hadn't been widely enough recognized. Yet his pictures, which began as a furious protest against the establishment, influenced a whole generation of photographers, and the assumed cockiness of the man would disguise what bitterness he felt, for he took some pleasure in remaining an outsider.
"Among modern photographers, it could be that Klein is the joker in the pack. Without formal training, he set out to discover a way of taking pictures - and invented a prototype. A nonconformist, a displaced person, he says with wariness now that he once believed in John Cage's dictum that every spectator is always in the best seat.
"In his apparently raw and chaotic pictures what is meaningful might be found anywhere and what's really happening can be in the background, half hidden.
"And like the work, the man can seem wayward - a wayward improvisation without (it seems) a center. "Anything goes", Klein likes to say. He is a man of enormous talent and enormous defensiveness. At times he can remind you of the middle-aged hip photographer portrayed by Dennis Hopper in Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now - a'60s figure, egotistical, and maddening. At other times, he can appear so boyish and enthusiastic, particularly about photography, that he seems more like Luke Skywalker going "Gee whiz!" at what the world contains. Both images of him, like any image, can prove deceptive.
"At the center of Klein's work can be found an unexpected seriousness that virtually amounts to a declaration of faith. Klein succeeded in changing photography. Part of his talent was in showing us what the possibilities of a photograph could be. The root and heart of his work, from his early paintings and graphic designs to photography and films, reveal his fascination with the image of the city life and dream-nightmare around him - images that he first captured with a camera as if he were in a trance.
"In many ways the reputation of Klein, an American living in Paris, is similar to that of the highly regarded Robert Frank, a European living in America. It's now largely forgotten that Frank's classic work, The Americans, was dismissed at first by most critics and intellectuals. Klein's book New York, which established his reputation in Europe, has never been published in America.
"Klein returned to the United States from his adopted country, France, for eight months in 1954-1955, publishing New York in 1956. Frank, a Swiss expatriate, traveled through America in 1955 and 1956, publishing The Americans in 1958. In different ways, both men rebelled against the consciously elegant and beautiful. Both took a tough look at America - though Frank was wry and could be distant, whereas Klein was violent and personal. Frank used mostly one camera, one lens, one technique; Klein experimented with flash, wide-angle, grab shots, abstraction, blur, close-up, accidents, deformations, harsh printing, special layouts, and inking. Frank was concerned with showing America as never before, Klein with ways of showing it as never before.
"He has a knack of offending people, particularly those who might help him. He possesses a breezy combination of principle and opportunism. A maverick by nature, Klein puts up a show of taking the rough with the smooth, as if to take life and the tangled subject of photography too seriously would be to betray the street-wise image he likes to project. "Photography - it's no big deal," he likes to say in his flip way, while giving the impression of half hoping that he's wrong. It isn't that he is frivolous about photography. He prefers to demystify it, which is refreshing.
"His pictures were first criticized as the rough work of an amateur street photographer- yet his deliberate anti-technique has in itself become adopted as a technique, and the pictures, far from being amateur, are rooted in Klein's early artistic training in France with Fernand Léger, the first painter to confront modern urban reality.
"In the 1950s I couldn't find an American publisher for my New York pictures," he says. "Everyone I showed them to said, 'Ech! This isn't New York - too ugly, too seedy, too onesided.' They said, 'This isn't photography, this is shit' "