Michael Schmidt  ( 1945 – 2014)   A documentary photographer based in Berlin. He captured images of the city, its residents and its concrete landscapes in stark black and white images (BBC 2014). He preferred black and white photography as it neutralises images so that the viewer “is able to form an objective opinion about the image from a neutral standpoint independent of his subjective colour perception. He is thus not emotionally distracted.” (Schmidt, 1979). Over five decades he shot a series of projects, all in varying degrees of grey, believing that “Photography was invented to enable us to portray reality with complete precision to the last detail” (Schmidt, 1979).

One of other ways that he achieved neutrality was photographing in the flat midday sun, preferring to work without shadows so that the viewer allows” the objects portrayed in the photograph to take their effect upon him without being distracted by shadows or other mood effects’.  (Schmidt, 1979).

The French photographer Luc Delahaye said of Schmidt’s work: “His pictures look simple at first glance, and their anti-sentimentality, their refusal of all the tricks of the usual seduction, their concision and their clarity, give them great efficiency. They show what they show but they manage to retain an opacity, a mystery, and they become a support for our imagination”,  (O’Hagan 2014).


schmidt 1    schmidt

                                        (Nordenhake, n.d)

Eugène Atget (1857-1927)   His early work was of Paris streets mostly shot at midday with light that is factual, unemotional with minimal shadows: “light is external and illuminates its subject with an even clarity” (Borcoman, n.d). He sought as a documentarian would, to convey information objectively.

atget a   (Anon 1, n.d)

His later photographs used more subjective light with deep shadows, reflecting mood. These were often shot early in the morning, they use “light and shadow to create a mood rather than to describe a place”, (Anon 2, n.d). When photographing the parks and gardens in and around Paris, “these late photographs have a qualitatively different sensibility: formally bold and synthetic, they are also atmospheric, mysterious, and resonant” (Anon 2, n.d).

atget 2  (Anon 3, n.d.)

(Anon 3, n.d)In this image he uses light and space to describe the subject, and by shooting into the sun, the tree and its canopy is in silhouette in the foreground whilst the trees in the distance have been flattened to a narrow band.

atget 3  (Anon 3, n.d)

Golden (2013, p26) suggests that “the simplicity and limitations of his technique, which led him to photograph in the early morning…gave a certain empty and surreal charm to his cityscapes”. His work is also characterised by the rapid foreshortening caused by wide angled lenses and “frequent truncating of the nominal subject in exchange for a more intimate vantage point”, (Szarkowski, n.d). 

Johnny Savage     An Irish photographer whose new body of work Fallout explores modern landscapes in Ireland through a series of sixteen surreal and haunting images of modern day ruins. These buildings were built during the economic boom but have never been occupied. I came across his work when researching photographers working with urban space and reflections. Savage (n.d) describes fallout as a series of photographs that considers the modern Irish landscape; a landscape where empty buildings stand like ruins, reminders of another time or place in history”. 

I like the way he uses reflections to create layers in the images, creating a mood of “disillusionment and loss, a haunted empty landscape” (Savage, n.d)

savage 1   savage 2

(Anon 4, n.d)


I was also inspired by Rut Blees Luxemburg, see research for exercise 4.3 link: 


Anon 1. (n.d)Art of Old Paris. National gallery of Art Washingtom. (Accessed 27.3.16)

Anon 2 (n.d). The Art of Documentary Photography. National gallery of Art Washington (Accessed 27.3.16).


Anon3 (n.d) Parks and Gardens. National gallery of Art Washington. (Accessed 27.3.16)

Anon 4 (n,d) (Accessed 28.4.16).


BBC (2014). Michael Schmidt: German photographer dies aged 68. 25.05.2014. (accessed 27.3.16).


Borcoman, J ( n.d) Eugene Atget, 1857-1927 (Accessed 27.3.16).


Golden, R (2013) Masters of photography. (Third edition). London. Goodman books.


Nordenhake (n.d) (accessed 27.3.16)


O’Hagan, S (2014) Michael Schmidt Obituary. Guardian online. 28 May 2014: (Accessed 27.3.16)


Savage, (n.d). (Accessed 29.4.16)


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