Prof K Pelka : Tuesday 12:00 - 3:20

Photo Essay



Phillip Lorca diCorcia                                      Elliot Erwitt

Sebastiao Salgado                                           Roy Decarava

Diane Arbus                                                    Richard Avedon

Sally Mann                                                      Annie Lebovitz                                   

Dorothea Lange                                              Shirin Neshat

Daido Moriyanma                                       Steve Mccurry

     Robert Frank                                         Laurie Simmons                                     

Vivian Maier                                                    Josef Koudelka

Alex Webb                                                            Edward Burtynsky

Lee Freidlander

Kwame Brathwaite

Jamel Shabazz

Laurie Simmons

Helen Levitt

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Raghu Rai

Winston O Link


Google the above photographers and find someone whose work you like. Not liking anyone is not an option.   Submit a 500 word essay on the photographer of your choice

Essay should contain the following:

  1. Biographical background and general description of the type of photographer’s work   When you google the photographer you will find more complete information in articles from the NY Times or info for galleries.  Also you can go to galleries that represent the photographers to see more of their work

2. Why did you choose the photographer?

3. Choose a photo and use the following questions as a guide for your discussion of the       chosen photo.   This should be the major part of the essay

  • What is the content and subject matter of the photo? Describe the photo.
  • What strikes you about the photo?
  • What do you relate to in the photo?
  • What do you think the photographer is trying to show?
  • What compositional elements are used to convey and emphasize the meaning of the photo?  ie :  framing, point of view, balance (symmetrical  vs  asymmetrical ), foreground/background relationships, scale and perspective, repetition of form, frame within the frame, lighting, tonal and color contrasts, use of line to move eye through image.  (You don’t have to use all these but you should use some that apply.)

HINT: Do not cut and paste Wikipedia info.  Any info should be in your own words.

           The discussion of the photo should be at least 1/2  the essay

            If possible attach image

Essay due last class at the latest


  1. gregnazaire

    Phillip Lorca diCorcia is a renowned photographer whose works are known for their emotive qualities, especially his ability to capture the essence of his subjects through the use of lighting and composition. Born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1951, he began his career in photography in the 1970s and has since become known for his innovative and often emotionally charged works.

    One of diCorcia’s most famous projects is his series titled “Hustlers,” which he created in the 1990s. The series is a collection of portraits of male prostitutes who worked in Los Angeles, and it is widely regarded as a powerful and raw representation of its subjects. The photographs are highly stylized, featuring dramatic lighting and carefully composed scenes that highlight the vulnerability and humanity of the subjects. Through this series, diCorcia challenged traditional notions of masculinity and sexuality, creating an open dialogue about marginalized communities.

    Aside from his portraiture work, diCorcia has also explored other genres, such as landscape photography and still life. His photographs often have a cinema like quality to them, with a strong sense of narrative and attention to details that bring the viewer into the scene. He is a master at creating the mood and atmosphere through lighting, and use of foreground/background relationships, repetition, and perspective.

    The photograph that I have chosen to analyze is a portrait of an old man sitting alone. The man is dressed in a dark suit and tie, and his gaze is fixed on the camera, conveying a sense of deep introspection. The blurred background emphasizes the man as the focal point and creates a sense of isolation and solitude, while the surroundingstays blurred and unreadable.

    What strikes me about this photograph is the overwhelming sense of loneliness and isolation it conveys. The man’s expression, and the blurred background and carefully composed scene, create a powerful emotive impact. As a viewer, I can feel the emotions of the subject, and I feel drawn into his world.

    In this photograph, diCorcia is trying to show the inner emotions and thoughts of the man, as well as the broader theme of isolation and introspection in modern society. The photograph asks the viewer to reflect on their own feelings of loneliness and to consider the impact of modern society on our emotional wellbeing. Through his use of lighting, composition, and attention to detail, diCorcia creates a powerful and thought-provoking image that invites the viewer to explore their own emotions and experiences.,8543,-10904347243,00.html

  2. Sophia

    Edward Burtynsky, born on February 22nd, 1955 is an established Canadian photographer known for capturing images of industrial landscapes and exploring the ideology pertaining to the negative effects that humans continue to have on the environment. His work showcases environmental degradation through the progression of time. Burtynsky’s way of capturing images has proven to leave a direct impact on the mind of his viewers. The significant meaning behind Burtynsky’s photographs along with the compositions, angles, patterns and textures that he encapsulates is essentially why I chose to write about him. The composition of his photos communicates a fact with a message, which is that our world is under attack by its own inhibitors and it will get worse. Humans are turning a blind eye while the acts of ecocide continue to destroy the earth on a much greater scale than one could ever imagine. This poses a direct threat to humanity as it will lead to substantial issues relating to irreversible damages in the long term.

    The content and subject matter of the photo that I chose from Burtynsky’s collection titled “Anthropocene” is of the integration of a freeway in a residential neighborhood. This collection prioritizes exposing how human pursuit is a paramount factor in our environment. What strikes me the most about this photo are the geometric shapes that are only visible from a birds eye view. The way that the freeway is constructed is exceptionally unique and at the same time incredibly fascinating being as it was created by man. The lanes are sturdy and intertwine with one another to transport drivers in entirely different directions. Based on additional research regarding the geometric design of a freeway I have learned that it is essentially broken into three parts including its alignment, profile and cross-section. The alignment and profile are vital to the structure of a freeway as the alignment has a multitude of horizontal tangents and the profile is the vertical aspect that displays curves, straight lines and the cross section. As a New Yorker I can relate to the photo in terms of my own utilization of service roads such as local roads, highways, parkways, expressways, etc. to reach my intended destination. These service roads are easily accessible and get you from point A to point B, but while appreciating its reason for design it is also crucial to acknowledge how these types of conveniences have resulted in the traumatic loss of nature and our wildlife. It is evident that this photographer not only demonstrates a deep understanding of industrial landscapes, but also how it is negatively reshaping the earth as we know it. As we are destroying nature we are destroying ourselves in the process. Burtynsky’s work is a documentation of industrial growth and its vast effects on humanity. Moreover, Burtynsky uses a variety of compositional elements to convey and emphasize the meaning of the photo including framing, scale and perspective, lighting and use of line to move the viewer’s eye through the image. The framing prioritizes the subject matter while also illustrating its surroundings such as the little neighborhoods surrounding the freeway. His scaling and perspective is executed very well as the image is captured from an elevated position (bird’s eye view) that is positioned downwards. It makes the object appear smaller while also allowing for the viewer to focus on its overall composition and shapes. The light source is natural and is well adjusted to the subject. It is not too bright and not too dark which adds to the photo as opposed to taking away from it. Lastly, Burtynsky’s clever placement of his camera allows for an effortless control of eye movement for his viewers. In this case, viewers will automatically avert their attention towards focal areas such as the lines, edges, shapes and colors of the freeway. The diagonal lines lead the eye and enable viewers to focus solely on the subject matter.

    Enrolling into Mr. Pelka’s course this semester has allowed me to obtain a greater appreciation for photography as a whole. There are many different components and thought processes that go into capturing the perfect shot that many people may not necessarily take into consideration. Throughout this semester I have learned a tremendous amount relating to the technical and aesthetic concerns of photography that help to attain visually appealing images.

    Edward Burtynsky anthropocene age photograph:

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