(Roughly) Daily

“Photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event”*…

 

Witness Hilde Scheller during the murder trial of Paul Krantz, Berlin, 1928

One of the founding figures of photojournalism, Erich Salomon pioneered the use of hidden cameras—the phrase “candid camera” was first applied to him. A 1924 Ermanox equipped with glass plates and a relatively fast shutter speed, concealed in bowler hats and briefcases—and, in one memorable occasion, in bagpipes—allowed him to take photographs in places where they were strictly prohibited: in the casinos at Monte Carlo or at criminal trials. With a camera hidden in a sling, Salomon was the first photographer to take pictures of the United States Supreme Court in session.

Salomon was best known for his photographs of diplomatic gatherings at the highest level. Employing various subterfuges, he followed three statesmen across Europe—Aristide Briand, Joseph Chamberlain, and Gustav Stresemann—as they fecklessly tried, over champagne and cigars, to preserve peace in Europe. When he couldn’t gain admission to the inner sanctum, Salomon photographed the hat-check man asleep under the ministers’ hats, or members of the diplomatic entourage. One particularly brilliant photograph, rife with irony, shows Maurice Privat, Pierre Laval’s astrologer, perched on a sofa under Rubens’ painting The Conclusion of Peace, consulting a star chart as he waits for his daily session with the prime minister. The most famous of Salomon’s cat-and-mouse photographs records the moment when Briand, who dubbed him “the king of the indiscreet,” recognizes him across the room and points a friendly accusatory finger at him, just as Salomon snaps the image…

French Prime Minister Aristide Briand pointing at the photographer, during the negotiations of the Seven-Power Conference, Paris, July 19, 1931

More at “The Unguarded Moment.”

* Henri Cartier-Bresson

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As we “smile,” we might recall that it was on this date in 1954 that the iconic sequence of Marilyn Monroe, laughing as her skirt is blown up by the blast from a subway vent, was shot, during the filming of Billy Wilder’s The Seven Year Itch.  One can imagine Salomon– or those he inspired (e.g., Cartier-Bresson, Eisenstadt, Walker) snapping at the same time…

Tom Ewell and Marilyn Monroe in The Seven Year Itch

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Written by LW

September 15, 2015 at 1:01 am

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