why i love Helen Levitt.

This American photographer, was born in 1913, in Brooklyn and died in 2009. After dropping out of high school during her final year, she found her first work in a photographic portrait studio in The Bronx, where she picked up all the technical aspects she would later so skillfully use. In 1936 she got herself a Leica, influenced by Cartier-Bresson. She equipped her camera with a winkelsucher, which allowed her to take pictures sideways and therefore go relatively unnoticed on the streets.Her first subject was chalk paintings in the streets of New York and the kids who made them. The streets kept fascinating her, and she continued to photograph the poor, the ordinary, especially children, even though she never had any. Her significant work, documenting a different era, yet always recognized as high art at the same time, can’t be precisely dated, since it covers an era of 60 years, and she never was a fan of organizing..

Which again matters little, because her work is actual poetry and not a history book, despite the incedibly accurate captures. Her photographs are always taken at the right moment, which is a rare gift in a street photographer, always lacking sentimentality, always honest. The underpriviledged are not treated as such, but as human beings, ordinary people, whose human experiences will remain endless in time. Life was out there on the street, and she was there in the middle of it in the most intimate, tender and intelligent way. With her working class photos she added to the social movements of the time and at the same time helped establishing photography as a form of art. She might be little known to the general public now, but to anyone who wants to consider themselves a photographer she is really an icon.


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