Robert Frank died today. As Sean O’Hagan wrote for The Guardian “it is impossible to imagine photography’s recent past and overwhelmingly confusing present without (Robert Frank’s) lingeringly pervasive presence. Frank was 31 in 1955 when he secured the Guggenheim Grant… He shot around 28,000 pictures. When Les Americains was published by Robert Delpire in France in 1958, it consisted of just 83 black and white images, but it changed the nature of photography, what it could say and how it could say it… it remains perhaps the most influential photography book of the 20th century… (Robert Frank) caught what Diane Arbus called the ‘hollowness’ at the heart of many American lives, the chasm between the American dream and the everyday reality.” One of the photographers I know in Cape Breton, Chad Tobin, @tobinchad, has been photographing Robert Frank at his summer home in Mabou, Nova Scotia for ten years now. He and Robert Frank had a special connection.
There are a lot of talented photographers in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia and I’ve been privileged to mentor and teach a workshop there. Chad Tobin, has been photographing Robert Frank at his summer home in Mabou, Nova Scotia for ten years now. It seems like a grand statement, but Robert Frank influenced every social documentary photographer since his book “The Americans” came out in the 1950’s. I know he influenced me.
This is from the NYT Obituary today: “Mr. Frank may well have been the unwitting father of what became known in the late 1960’s as the snapshot aesthetic, a personal offhand style that sought to capture the look and feel of spontaneity in an authentic moment. The pictures had a profound influence on the way photographers began to approach not only their subjects but also the picture frame.”