Photo Reportage


This is a classic: Ruth Orkin’s “Comic Book Readers, New York City, 1947”. I particularly like it for the wonderful composition, and the detailed information about what city girls in that period typically wore. In fact you start to wonder how “casual” a shot it really was, when you realise all three girls are wearing pretty well the same floral-print light frock and sturdy shoes and socks – two also wearing hair-ribbons. Plus, the girl on the right doesn’t seem to be reading a comic: it has a lurid picture of a “fast” girl in a short skirt with the title “Hedy” –  and the “comic reading” also seems to be in deliberate contrast to the serious religious tomes in the shop window. So “reportage” could be a misnomer: but it’s still a heck of an image….


The second image is far less easy to source: at least it has a source, but identifying the gender of the photographer, his/her actual name and nationality, the year and location of the photo are problematic. It backtracks to a photographer called “SA faces” on the Russian Photosight image library site, but significantly the image file contains the words “favorite_authors_photos”: although searching the address watermarked on the image itself,, does bring you to an interesting photo blog with galleries of images from Indonesia and Cambodia, as well as portraits and tasteful nudes – but not this particular shot. If you  hover over the web address  it says: “Photo by Saura-agni”, Saura-agni being an occult Indian name for solar fire – where I guess the “SA” in the Photosight name-tag comes from…..but it leaves me even more in the dark….

The girl on the left looks Indian in fact, or at least from the subcontinent: but not a street girl, as she’s wearing a watch. The contrast between her and the other girl is clearly what makes the image: the differences in colouring and clothing – but also the similarities: two girls about the same age, happily sitting together on the worn steps. As one of the Russian commenters on Photosight says: “Young gossips!!!!” I wouldn’t even say the location is run-down or decrepit: there are some cigarette stubs on the ground, true, but the paving slabs and the walls are well- grouted and mortared, and the door behind recently painted in a crisp white with what looks like a large new number one attached.

Oh, for some clear information, or at least a good knowledge of Cyrillic script…..


The final image is thankfully well-documented: it’s by Swedish photographer  Gunnar Smoliansky,  and it’s called “Sodermalm 1959”  Södermalm  (a district of central Stockholm) is currently “the coolest place in Europe”, apparently – let’s hope all these four are still alive, and enjoying it as much as they seem to have done as children – even in their retirement years!!  (And don’t those feet look lovely and dirty!!)


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