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FIELD TRIP ASSIGNMENT

MARCH 12, 2009

The Americans
Robert Frank Photo: Museum Directions
Photo Exhibit: Looking In: Robert Frank’s The Americans PART ONE: The National Gallery

1. Take time to walk through the


entire exhibition.
2. Draw (in your sketchbook) a quick
thumbnail of one image that you
find particularly inspiring and one
that you dislike in the exhibition. If
titled, mark down the title and year
photographed.
3. Why did you select these images?
What did you like and what did you
dislike about each of the images?
4. What principles of composition
(light, rule of thirds, etc.) did Frank
employ in the images and how do
they contribute to the success of
the photograph?

First published in France in 1958 and in the in the order established by the book, and by
United States in 1959, Robert Frank's The providing a detailed examination of the book's roots
Americans is widely celebrated as the most in Frank's earlier work, its construction, and its
important photography book since World War II. impact on his later art.
Including 83 photographs made largely in 1955 and
1956 while Frank (b. 1924) traveled around the
United States, the book looked beneath the surface
of American life to reveal a profound sense of
alienation, angst, and loneliness. With these
prophetic photographs, Frank redefined the icons of
America, noting that cars, jukeboxes, gas stations,
diners, and even the road itself were telling symbols
of contemporary life. Frank's style—seemingly
loose, casual compositions, with often rough,
blurred, out-of-focus foregrounds and tilted
horizons—was just as controversial and influential
as his subject matter. The exhibition celebrates the
50th anniversary of the book's publication by
presenting all 83 photographs from The Americans

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FIELD TRIP ASSIGNMENT MARCH 12, 2009

PART TWO: AFTER FRANK...AFTER THE MUSEUM FOLLOW-UP


Things to think about...and answer in your sketchbook!

1. Why is Frank’s book The Americans such an important


photographic collection?

2. Why was the series of images considered so controversial


and influential after its publication.

3. Considering the context and time period that The


Americans was published...what type of images were being
produced before the series by other photographers?

4. How (in your own words) did Frank’s images and shooting
techniques alter the way photographers made images and
select subject matter?

PART THREE: MAKING SOME DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHS


Create two digital images that are inspired by the selected Robert Frank images that you chose to sketch
earlier (one you liked and one you disliked). You will need to shoot the images digitally, import the images
onto a computer and then place a print of the images in your sketchbook along with the original sketches.

See any
similarities?
-depth of Field
-composition
-value range
-use of geometric
shapes
-implied glance
of the subject
Robert Frank Danny Wilcox Frazier
Image from The Americans A young girl dreams of becoming a
summer festival queen like her older
sister, Conesville, 2003
FOR MORE INFORMATION ON ROBERT FRANK CHECK OUT THE
PHOTO CLASS BLOG FOR LINKS, IMAGES, AND INSPIRATION!!!
Consider doing some research by surfing the web for a bit to see how others have
been inspired by Robert Frank and listen to audio tracks about Frank and The
Americans series/book publication. Links can be found on my class blog at:
http://rhhsphoto2molfino.blogspot.com/

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