The International Center of Photography

It's always interesting to see how people react when they notice you're taking their photograph, some people look directly at you (like this angry woman in Chinatown), some try to model and look pretty, and some completely ignore the camera. ©Tess Mayer

After a very overwhelming and not nearly long enough trip to B&H the group walked to Times Square. We scrambled to finish rolls of film and capture the insanity that is Times Square while simultaneously eating lunch and trying fully taking in New York City. Then we were off to ICP to see three exhibitions; A collection on Elliot Erwitt’s personal best photos, A collection of photographs from 1945 in Hiroshima after the bombing, and photographs by Ruth Gruber. Elliot Erwitt’s work is very different any other photojournalistic photographs I’ve ever seen. Most photojournalism exhibits current events, wars and all different types of world suffering. Though images like these can be breathtakingly powerful, and are definitely vital for our media coverage, it is very refreshing to view Erwitt’s light hearted street photographs.

“It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place.” – Elliot Erwitt

Erwitt’s work shows precisely this, his uncanny ability to seek out the most interesting people in the crowded streets of NYC, or perhaps they are quite ordinary but Erwitt himself brings out they personality and quirks in his black and white images. Erwitt seems to have a way of connecting, and getting on a personal level with his subjects. They all seem completely comfortable around him, like they’ve known him or talked to him for some time. The large scale of the images and high contrast made the expressions and emotions in the photos stand out even more. Seeing a couple of his contact sheets was helpful; Showing how he only chooses one or two photos from an entire roll of film was definitely encouraging, being fairly new to the black and white film process. It was nice to see the mixture of funny photos, more serious portraits, celebrity portraits and architectural photos. But it was a little distracting and hard to concentrate as a whole because all of the photos were so different.

I loved how Ruth Gruber’s photos were in groups of 4 or more, they told a very precise story. I particularly liked the series of photographs from North Africa, they were exceptionally striking and held a real meaning and seemed to have the strongest story. The photos from Hiroshima were intriguing from a historical point of view, but the tiny size annoyed me and took away from the haunting quality.

The set up of the gallery was interesting as well, the whole main floor was filled with Erwitts images, along with a good portion of the lower floor. The other two exhibitions had separate rooms, I liked being able to concentrate completely on the works separately, and also see Erwitts photos a second time when leaving, as I missed a couple photos initally. As a whole, the entire trip to ICP was inspiring, and I’m excited to see more exhibitions!!

~Tess Mayer


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