Rongrong Liu: Looking at Photographs

Rongrong Liu_snow_scene_absgraction_Tony_Ward_Studio
Photo: Rongrong Liu, Copyright 2018


Photography and Text by Rongrong Liu, Copyright 2018


Book Review


Looking at Photographs by John Szarkowski


After consuming the 100 photographs, the first question raised in my mind is what the photographers of our generation should try to pursue? Technology nowadays allows us to reduce much effort on things that the past photographers have struggled with. Photoshop can adjust most of the flaws of photos – exposure, perspective, contrast, color saturation, etc. Digital photography must be a thing for contemporary photography, but composition, light, style will still not be replaced by technology.

In this book, I see things that made these 100 photographs historic don’t fall beyond four categories:strong personal style, momentary and documentary, special use of light, and unique composition. For example, Irving Penn’s Women in Black Dress defined a classic symbol of elegance. Not certain about the relevance, but I even make a bold speculation that Breakfast At Tiffany’s drew inspiration from this. Mr. and Mrs. Kotani: Two Who Have Suffered From The Bomb, from Ken Domon hit me with its contrast between the tragedy that the subjects in the photo have suffered, and the smile on their face. Camera is like permanent eye, recording this rare and precious moment, and sharing the photographer’s view to the world.

The one technique I learned about is to utilize the negative space. The Broken Window by Brett Weston created a negative relationship between object and background. It really made the “nothing” in the middle gain the dominant presence in the picture. Inspired by this, I took a picture of my opposite apartment in an Airbnb through the window shades. Snow scene is normal in winter days, but the four corners that the shades covered created a cross shape, and in return it let us focus on the subjects in the middle.


About The Author: Rongrong Liu is a Junior enrolled in the College of the University of Pennsylvania, Class of 2019. To access additional articles by Rongrong Liu, click here:


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