“Small plants that exist by our side and we hardly take notice of also contain within themselves the majestic nature, and revolve their life force just the same. They are filled with a variety of expressions and dynamism that cannot be seen with the naked eye, and allow you to sense the mystery of the formation of life.”
“My project consists of inserting some primates – they share with humans up to almost 99% of the DNA-in safety capsules that will regenerate a form of primordial life, a future day, after the extinction of the breed human.”
Tommy Ingberg‘s surrealistic photo montages.
“This is a series of black and white, surrealistic photo montages. The pictures start off with a feeling, a story, a riddle for the viewer to think about. I strive for simple, scaled back compositions with few elements, where every part adds to the story, but where there are still gaps for the viewer to fill.”
Eugene de Salignac (1861–1943) – the municipal photographer who captured the transformation of New York
Eugene de Salignac was employed as the single official photographer by the New York City Department of Bridges/ Plants & Structures* from 1906 to 1934. During that period using a large-format camera he captured the transformation of New York from a town to a city. Shooting mainly its changing architecture, growing infrastructure and those who built it, he left quite an impressive archive of 12,500 8″ x 10″ gelatin-silver and cyanotype prints and 20,000 8″ x 10″ glass plate and acetate negatives. Not only his prolific work but also his unique vision worth a few words about him. As Michael Lorenzini mentioned ‘A lot of other photographers who worked for the city were pretty talented but did not produce such a large body of work or a distinct body of work.’
Mr. Lorenzini, the senior photographer for the New York City Municipal Archives, is actually the man who rediscovered the talent of Eugene de Salignac in 1999. He explains that as he was spooling through microfilm of the city’s vast Department of Bridges photography collection, he realized that many of the images shared a common sophisticated aesthetic. Besides, he noticed that there were consecutive numbers scratched into the negatives. And then he realized that they had all been shot by a single unknown photographer. But who was he?
Trying to find the answer, Mr Lorenzini started a research. It took him many months and uncounted hours of trolling through archives storerooms, the Social Security index, Census reports and city records on births, deaths and employment, and finally discovered the photographer: Eugene de Salignac.
Though Michael Lorenzini unearthed primary sources to reconstruct de Salignac’s biography, still a lot about him remains unknown.
The basic facts of his life are that he was born in Boston in 1861 into an eccentric family of exiled French nobility. He got married, had two children and, after separating from his wife in 1903, at the age of 42 he started working for the City of New York. It was his brother-in-law who found him the job as an assistant to the photographer for the Department of Bridges, Joseph Palmer. After 3 years of apprenticeship, Palmer suddenly died, and in October 1906, de Salignac assumed his duties until 1934. Though he turned 70, he was still climbing bridges and actively working, but was forced to retire in 1934 despite a petition to Mayor La Guardia. Eugene de Salignac died in 1943, at 82.
De Salignac was not a typical municipal photograph. His job was to provide a record of the changing New York: the construction of bridges, municipal building, subway, tunnels, trolley lines, buses, ferries, street scenes, construction laborers, office workers, panoramas and etc. And he did it, but more as an artist than as an ordinary municipal worker. Some of his most compelling images reveal that he had an eye for composition, form and light. A real piece of art is his iconic photograph of the Brooklyn Bridge painters.
Obviously with such a huge amount, it is not possible that all of his photographs possess the high quality of an art work, but still they are great images from historical point of view. Moreover, it seems that de Salignac liked his job and these newly-built constructions became a continual source of his inspiration. He captured these symbols of the industrial progress in their unusual beauty.
Now since his name has emerged, he deserves all the merits for his work. In his lifetime de Salignac’s work was little seen outside of New York City government, and his name was forgotten after his death in 1943. Not however his images. They have been used in books and films but since their author was unknown, it was no possible to give them the correct credit.
Most of his collection now is held by the New York City Municipal Archives.
In 2007, they have published (publisher Aperture) the monograph ‘New York Rises: Photographs by Eugene de Salignac’ with authors Michael Lorenzini and Kevin Moore.
Among many of his photographic duties was also the task of taking portraits for licenses. He often shot two men at a time but it is not yet clear why.
*Bridges/Plant & Structures, 1901-1939. With consolidation of the Greater City of New York in 1898, all bridges over waterways were placed under jurisdiction of the newly-formed Department of Bridges. In 1916, Bridges merged with Public Works and became the Department of Plant & Structures with responsibility for streetcar lines, ferryboats, sewers, waste disposal facilities, homeless shelters, and bridges.
“At the beginning you must find the ideal location. Then you must be patient to find the right subject that arouses your interest, even if it’s just a cat . You must have the precise moment to catch the spirit, the essence, the soul of the person… If you don’t have the exact moment, you have to wait for the right feeling. It’s real creative work because you have to have the feeling inside.”
These words regarding his technique belong to the photographer Fan Ho and his works undoubtedly confirm them.
Mister Fan Ho was born in Shanghai in 1937, but in 1949 his family immigrated to Hong Kong and that was the place where he started to discover the magic of the painting with light. Still in his youth, with his father’s Rolleiflex camera in hand, he began to explore the everyday life of the crowded metropolis and archive it with the help of the lenses. However, his goal was not just to document the bustle of the urban life. Like an invisible observer, he was looking out to capture the solitary moments we have with ourselves to unveil the beauty of the internal world. And by carefully mastering of the light, he succeeded to present the drama of the daily routine but through a serene and peaceful atmosphere.
In 1980, Fan Ho moved to San Jose, California, and tried his skills also as a film director, and even acted in several movies, but it is his photography that assigns him a place among the greatest masters.
Due to health problems, nowadays he has devoted his professional time mostly organizing his rich heritage and up to now he has published three books – ‘Hong Kong Yesterday’,’ The Living Theatre’ and ‘A Hong Kong Memoir’
For purchasing a print or just to admire his works, here are some useful links
Official site – http://www.fanhophotography.com/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/fanhophotography
Modern Book Gallery is his official representatives – http://www.modernbook.com/fanho.htm