Robert Frank began studying photography in the 1940’s and went on to spend the next 6 years of his life working commercially in places like Zurich, Geneva, and Basel. In 1947, he moved to the United States where he worked for various magazines and even tried his hand at fashion photography but later resigned as he didn’t like the limitations. Being in America helped him take the images that would make him most famous; between 1955 and 1956 he was free to travel the country, the images he took during this time would end up in a book called “The Americans” published in France in 1957.

The Americans was one of the most revolutionary photography books of the time, however, it wasn’t without out its controversy; when it was published in the United States, Franks carefree attitude “towards photographic techniques and the raw perspective on American culture at the time, shocked most American’s who saw it.” (International Center of Photography, n.d) One of the images from his book that I was most drawn to, was the one of the Trolley cart taken in New Orleans titled “Trolley – New Orleans (1955)” I can imagine that this image was one of the ones to receive some of the controversies as you can see the degradation that has been depicted in the photograph of the racial segregation that was present during this time. The framing that Frank has used in this image seems very obvious, one of the things that stands out to me the most is the way in which the segregation is so unmistakable, from the way in which the coloured people are sitting right at the back, to the way that even the children are separated from the adults, by doing this Frank has almost created a virtual hierarchy of class in this image. Bringing into focus the way in which society saw “black” and “white” people. Just a simple thing like the white framing that covers the trolley is enough to make you think that this has been done on purpose, to make the viewer see the segregation that is going on.

The strain in this photograph is remarkable, firstly you have the stern and gloomy look on the woman sitting at the front who noticeably is clutching her bag as if she may lose it or worse have it taken away, you then have the most confused looks on the faces of the children in the next “section” as if they aren’t really sure what’s going on and why they are sat in the space that they are. Then finally you have the two coloured people that have been placed at the back of this trolley; almost out of the way. Even though the subject of this image is the residents of America going about their daily life, Frank has a way of making it seem so much more, especially through the way he has…


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