Lee Miller was born on 23 April 1907 in New York and died in East Sussex on 21 July 1977. She was a Model, muse, photographer, artist, war correspondent. She became known as a portraitist and fashion photographer, but her most famous work are Surrealist images. She resumed life in New York again in 1932, and set up her own studio which ran for 2 years, which was vastly successful. She was a freelance photographer for Vogue. She was the only woman combat photo-journalist to cover the front line war in Europe.
She used a Rolleiflex camera, it’s called a twin lens reflex camera because it has two identical lenses one for the photographer’s view and the other for the film to see the view. It only had 12 shots on a roll of film and because of the time to load film Lee carried 2 cameras so she could always have one ready. The Rolleiflex did not have a built – in light meter, flash or auto focus and it did not have telephoto lens to bring the image closer. She discovered solarisation and used the process in her work.
She was inspired by other surrealist artist and photographers such as Man Ray to enhance her own work, but also much of Man Ray’s work is in fact Millers’ but attributed to Man Ray.
Lee Miller frequently talked to the soldiers, she was most interested in ordinary people, their actions and profound thoughts.
This image is outstandingly beautiful. The main feature is the tree, but then you notice the soldiers behind it and the tone of the tree is balanced with all the other main and varied focal points of the image. It’s like a story telling process of the beautiful foreground the ugly war going on in the background. The space within the place of the gun point range is a frightening one. The image is also very sublime, but initially picturesque. We almost look at the soldier like an iconic figure because he wouldn’t have been given a choice not to take part in the war and that our safety is due to his and others bravery. The image is also indexical because it’s showing two very different things in one image like a juxtaposition, which it’s also very communitive to the viewer. The solider are almost lost in their collective non-identity. The viewer has a sense of stalking them. I think Lee is incredibly inspirational. Lee’s personal experiences include being raped at a very early age and lived with a venereal disease all her life subsequently shooting the war time pictures she suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Candida Hofer was born in Germany the daughter of a journalist. After graduating, she worked for a newspaper and then went onto become a student in Düsseldorf School run by the Bechers. 1973 to 1982 inclusive, Candida was highly sought after. She was considered to be one of the first of the Becher’s students to work in colour, always precisely composed, on a large-scale and shot in a classic straight-on frontal angle. She uses a Hasselblad (analogue) 6 by 6cm on a tripod to capture the images.
She mainly likes to photograph public buildings; banks and waiting rooms, but she also likes to shoot places like archives, hotels, libraries, museums, or opera houses encompassing non – human or without human presence because these are the places which should have frequent human presence. The empty and stark environment makes you question the fundamental character traits that draw people to these sites. She quotes “…it became apparent to me that what people do in these spaces – and what these spaces do to them – is clearer when no one is present, just as an absent guest is often the subject of a conversation.” It also helps us to look deeper into the fine architectural details within the scene, she also uses light in such a way to bring attention into the photographs. She has a tendency to keep the same viewpoint and an identical scale across a category of photographs of different subjects, which creates a typology within her work.
She researches from libraries and from the internet, but also the local residents, gaining as much insight as possible to enhance her photographs and maximise inspiration. She also verbalises that interiors and photography are an ideal match. Photography provides the opportunity to calm these spaces she feels. The images are parts of interiors. She also quotes “They are a continuation of my project of calm and ordered contemplation and reflection on spaces. They invite a concentrated view on structure, order and beauty.” She also adds “The subject matter itself hasn’t changed over time, but I believe my way of photographing has changed over time.” Photography for her is the right medium even though it’s evolved in the time she’s been photographing.
I concur and feel inspired by much of what she expresses, because it makes you think about the people who would normally visit these spaces, their absence makes you focus on the finer details of the architecture and even though the images look very simple and almost completely unedited there’s a fine beauty with all her work which appear to follow the rules of typology which help you identify her work and it also makes you notice much sooner the differences in the buildings. The colour is also very rich and expressive and yet quite a muted palette of colour is chosen for all those scenes. Her work is outstanding and gloriously beautiful I therefore, feel very inspired by her use of composition.