Inspiration, On the bookshelf, Photography, Uncategorized
Comments 6

The Americans by Robert Frank

As I mentioned a few weeks ago I thought it would be interesting to talk about a classic photography book with others. There is a Japanese phrase Ju nin to iro which means 10 people 10 colors i.e. we all perceive the world a slightly different way. I’d be delighted to hear how you see the images in the book.

Streetcar by Robert Frank in The Americans

Trolley - New Orleans by Robert Frank in The Americans

For me the cover image of the street car in New Orleans is one of the most powerful. A clear reminder that when Robert Frank made his journey across America in 1955/1956 the divisions between races were very clear. It was December 1st 1955 that Rosa Parks famously refused to give up her seat for a white passenger.

Rodeo - New York City by Robert Frank

Rodeo - New York City by Robert Frank

The image of the rodeo rider is another of my favorites, what strikes me is just how wiry and sinuous he appears. For me it seems to speak of a time when heroes, and perhaps America in general, were leaner.

So there you go, anyone else want to share their thoughts?


  1. Comment from Tom:

    My brief encounter with Robert Frank’s work has left me feeling like a second, or third glance is necessary. There is just so much to take in. Many of the photos pull you into the scene. Questions stir as to what each person might be thinking at the moment. Besides the moment I am considering the era these were taken in. What was the nation as a whole dealing with?

    Without further time to spend analyzing I can’t truly make a full interpretation of this book. What I can say is that it will be something that can bring me more pleasure in the future as I dig a little deeper to find the meaning in so many of these photos. Right now it makes me wonder what I would take pictures of if someone commissioned me to travel the country in search of images. Also would anyone enjoy those pictures, and would they be inspired by them enough to do the same.

  2. Funny, I have just bought this book. One of the classical situations where you have never heard of a word or a thing before, and all of a sudden it is everywhere. The BBC has been broadcasting a 6-part series about ‘the genius of photography’ and this program really opened my eyes to classic photography.

  3. Tina Nash says

    Leaner times… Simpler times..A farm girl..
    Love this photo Speaks to a soul a person of many eras
    Life really does not consist of what keeps our mind going but of what calms the thoughts true inner peace
    Lean simple

    Travel to seek scenes yes this makes me want to go out and find the beauty and share it with those who are trapped.

  4. Mason Cantrell says

    I am writing a paper on “Rodeo” by Robert Frank and I found your blog via Google. I believe that Frank wanted to show that we need to stop and enjoy the little things in life. In this case, the cowboy’s cigarette is the “small thing” where to us our cigarette could be our family, friends, pets, etc.

  5. Pingback: On other people’s bookshelves « Chris Willson's Blog

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