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Pictorial photograph. The influence of traditional aesthetic models on photographs of poverty


Since it is very difficult to find reports on poverty in the French collections of photographs, the article tries to establish the existence of another decisive aesthetic model. In the case of living pictures, portraits and photographic scenes, subjects are most often drawn from the pictorial tradition, actually a pretext for appearances of poverty. It seemed therefore interesting to see the question when the photograph called "snapshot" is developed in the late XIXth century and deeply renewed lines of the image. Even if snapshot offers a direct capture of the reality, it does not necessarily eradicate the practice of staging, become traditional. Instead, they are now shot in the street, in action (craftsmen, beggars, gipsies) and then credible thanks to an effect of "scenes taken from life." Oscillating between reporting and picturesque, this snapshot practice offers an original visual universe. But the same images invest at the same time, dictionaries, magazines, schoolbooks, etc. Deprived of their production context, they are successfully represented as images of documentation. This paradox leads to debate questions about the relationship, more or less deliberate, maintained until today by documentary photography approaches.

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