“Sir Robert Ho Tung, KBE, JP” by Lo So-man
-Taken in 1956; Depicts Hong Kong businessman and Aristocrat Robert Ho Tung (1862-1956). Ho Tung was a noted philanthropist, and numerous modern Hong Kong schools, parks, and buildings bear his name.
-Lo So-Man (1910-1992) spend most of his life in Guangdong Province, China. He is a noted photographer and founder of the Lo So-man Photography Institute. He is best known for his portrait and landscape photographs.
-As is characteristic of So-Man’s works, the photograph uses highly contrasted lighting. The effect of this choice is emphasis on the more well-lit portions of the image (in this case the subject’s face). It also highlights wrinkles and other darker parts of the face that contrast more severely in the brightly-lit environment. As a result, both the subject’s age and quizzical expression are magnified.
“Forester’s hut, Ferntree Gully” by Archibald James Campbell
-Taken between 1900 and 1901; the subject is a rural Australian family and their farmhouse. Campbell described the image as a protest against the Australian government’s despoliation of natural resources and habitats.
-Campbell was an Australian photographer who worked as a customs official. He was also a noted ornithologist and environmentalist. He took extensive photographs of the Australian countryside, some of which he used to aid protests against the Australian government.
-The shot is framed with the family at its center, placing the viewer’s immediate focus on them. Their smiling, contented faces seem to clash with the disrepair of their humble estate. Understood in its context as a political statement, this disparity perhaps speaks to their lack of interest in the government’s economic initiatives and general disregard for material possessions.
“Sports, Football, Columbia” by Byron Company
-Taken between 1894 and 1904
-Little is known about the author or subjects of this photograph, so I will instead offer my reasons for including it. One the one hand, it shows the extreme changes sports have undergone in the last century. Football is still dangerous, of course, but these men were running headlong into each other over with barely any padding to speak of (and no helmet!) I recognize that modern rugby is a fairly similar game, but strictly in terms of this sport it is amazing to see how much the standards have changed.
-At the same time that it illustrates how different the world has become, it also speaks to the humanity of previous generations. People from previous generations still enjoyed sports and still tried to look tough for the camera.
“Isambard Kingdom Brunel and the launching chain of the Great Eastern” by Robert Howlett
-Taken in 1857; one of a series of photograph of the construction of the steamship The Great Eastern in London.
-Howlett was a prolific English photographer who has been popularly successful until the present day. Many of Howlett’s photographs (including) were commissioned, often by wealthy patrons. He died in 1858 at age 27, possibly from heavy metal poisoning.
-As is mentioned in the text, this photograph is the quintessential representation of the power (both positive and negative) stoked by the Industrial Revolution. In particular, the massive chains can be evocative of both British economic and engineering power and colonial imperialism. Other notable features include the subject’s caricature representation of the bourgeois mercantilist and the lack of any background giving the photograph a somewhat claustrophobic tone.
“Joseph Goebbels As A Young Man” by FPG Getty Images
-Taken between 2010 and 2014 by an unknown author.
-The subject of the photograph is Joseph Goebbels, the propaganda minister of Nazi Germany. He was known for his extreme (even by Nazi standards) Antisemitism and cynical attitude toward the ability of the government to control its peoples’ opinions.
-I find these images of Nazis and other notoriously depraved people both disturbing and fascinating. Goebbels was undeniably a monster, and there is something undeniably sinister about him even as a young man. At the same time, however, seeing the man before he became wrapped up in the Nazi cause makes it difficult to entirely dismiss him as a psychotic monster. That is, he doesn’t look any different from a person I might see on the street tomorrow. Fascinating, but disturbing.