Two Cities, One Vision by Fred Stein
From time to time, we have the opportunity to publish images from a previous era, often from a photographer at the end of their career, sometimes posthumously. We love doing so. I think it is right and fitting that we contemporary photographers acknowledge those who have pioneered our passion in a time when photography was much more innocent, much less celebrated, much more obscure.
Fred Stein is not celebrated in the histories of photography. His is not a recognized name in the annals of art. Like so many others, he photographed not for fame and fortune, but simply because he was fascinated by life and what he could record with his camera. What he could record with his camera — ever wonder why? What motivated these photographers in the first part of the 20th Century?
I have no hesitation in stating that I believe a large part of their motivation was as altruistic as it can get — they wanted us to remember. They knew they were living in changing times and that their photographs would be a portal backward for us, for now. They photographed for you and I. I feel a sense of grateful obligation to them to look. If they thought it important enough to make the photographs, I feel it is important enough for us to give them a moment of our time and see through their eyes.
Which, of course, brings me to our times. Change is everywhere, now just as much as it was then. We, too, make photographs that may be best appreciated a couple of generations from now, when our world is a memory. I am convinced that as important as Robert Frank is today, his work will be even more important in 50 or 100 years from now. This is worth remembering every time we take out cameras out and make images of our times. We, also, are making images that may be more important than we can imagine for people, say, on some distant planet. You think I'm exaggerating? Can you imagine how Emperor Qin Shi Huang would react to our modern museum display of his terra cotta soldiers?
The portfolio can be seen in its entirety in our back issues — print (while still available) and our PDFs for computer, iPad, Android, and other devices. Plus, bonus audio commentary about this image is available to members of LensWork Online.
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