Book Review

Book review – Modern Photojournalism

I found this marvellous book, Modern Photojournalism: Origin and Evolution, 1910-1933 by Tim N. Gidal, in a local antique market. It turns out to be the first volume of a series Photography: Men and Movements. These particular men* are predominantly working in Germany from the last years of the German Empire, through the Weimar Republic and the rising obscenity of Nazism. The Reichstag burned in February 1933, the rest of Europe followed soon after.

The first thirty pages are a readable and necessarily brief history of the period, the remainder of the book a selection of photographs. Photographs of a world strangely familiar, the contemptuous rich, the struggling poor, of uncaring greed and of human kindness and dignity. Some of these photos could be from the Yorkshire of my childhood, and I’m not that old.

There are some big names and some near unknown ones(to the anglophone side of photography anyway, not saying it can be a bit insular, but I’m not saying it’s not either) rubbing shoulders within these pages; I’ve put Wiki links where they exist, obviously some are only available in German.

So who is there? Andre Kertesz, Umbo (Otto Umbehr), Harald Lechenperg, Tim N. Gidal, Walter Bosshard, Felix H. Man, Erich Salomon, Wolfgang Weber, Martin Munkacsi, Alfred Eisenstaedt and Willi Ruge. I’m posting a few images here.

Here’s one of the lesser known names;

Umbo pp74-75 Modern Photojournalism: Origin and Evolution, 1910-1933

And here from one of the better known;

Eisenstaedt pp62-63, Modern Photojournalism: Origin and Evolution, 1910-1933

So is the book worth finding? If you have any interest in photojournalism and it’s origins or in recent history, very definitely yes. You should be able to track a copy down from your friendly local second hand book dealer(I’ve put the publication details at the end) or via

*yes, they are all men; seems women photographers were even more invisible in 1973 than they are now

Modern Photojournalism: Origin and Evolution, 1910-1933

Tim N. Gidal

Collier Books Edition  1973

Published by Macmillan Publishing Co. Inc. New York

Library of Congress Catalogue number 73-10788

Sorry, it’s the time before ISBN.