Documentary photograph or work of art?
Somehow photographer Gordon Parks managed to achieve both
Gordon Parks, March 1944. Gelatin silver print. Courtesy of The Gordon Parks Foundation, GP.2022.074.
A recent exhibition at the Carnegie Museum of Art in Pittsburgh focused on previously unseen photos by Gordon Parks of workers in a grease factory taken during WWII. He was hired to take marketing photos for Standard Oil as part of a PR drive for the war effort.
“Photographing the grease plant at Pittsburgh was a pretty nasty job. It was nasty because in every building and on every floor grease was underfoot. The interiors in the older buildings were extremely dark and absorbed plenty of light, so it was necessary to use long extensions and many bulbs. The extensions, throughout the day, were covered with grease.”
Gordon Parks, letter to Roy Stryker, March 1944
I'm a huge fan of Parks' photography. Like almost all of his work, the photos from this shoot are quite incredible, both as historical documentary records and as artworks. Somehow he managed to achieve both.
Over the paywall jump I discuss this amazing photo from Parks’ photoshoot in Pittsburgh. Plus join the community and share your thoughts with us!