Vintage photo of the day Jan. 3, 2011

Today’s vin­tage photo of the day is called The Pho­to­jour­nal­ist by Andreas Feininger and was taken in 1951. It has become an iconic por­trait and the sub­ject is pho­to­jour­nal­ist David Stock who won a pho­to­jour­nal­ism com­pe­ti­tion. Feininger shot the image‚for Life Mag­a­zine where he worked for decades.

Feininger is per­haps best known for his‚architectural‚ and street shots of New York City in the for­ties and fifties. This por­trait does not rep­re­sent Feininger’s aver­age sub­ject mat­ter and yet it is amongst his most famous pho­tographs for many good reasons.

The Photojournalist by Andreas Feininger - 1951

The Pho­to­jour­nal­ist by Andreas Feininger — 1951

What draws us to this pho­to­graph is obvi­ously the unique way it’s pre­sented. The Leica cam­era is turned to one side so that the lens and viewfinder act as the subject’s eyes. Both lenses have spec­u­lar high­lights which mimic the catch­lights seen in por­traits. In addi­tion, the image is beau­ti­fully printed with rich blacks and whites with detail. The eye is skill­fully guided to the focal points (lens and viewfinder) in this image, likely through selec­tive dodg­ing and burn­ing (selec­tive dark­en­ing and light­en­ing of spe­cific parts of the image). It’s the com­bi­na­tion of tech­ni­cal skill and well thought out com­po­si­tion that make this image superb.

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