A significant portion of his output is "staged" in that Frith directed members of his expeditions to stand or rest in specific locations within the picture frame, and thus provide spatial reference points to articulate the scale of subjects. In photographing open desert around the pyramids, for example, he typically deployed two or three groups of figures, corresponding compositionally to the foreground and middle-ground registers of conventional landscape painting. At a basic level, such figures suggest the scale of the vast expanses that surround these structures, while introducing a human element, a contrast to the sterile and inhospitable environment. As with ... traditional landscape painting, the human presence in Frith's plates invites viewers to imagine themselves bodily situated in the same space.You can see from these examples why Frith was such a sensation in his day, and why his views of these ancient marvels are found in many renowned photography collections. This was the first Europe had seen of the remnants of Egyptian civilization besides the sketches Napoleon’s archaeologists made in 1798.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Bringing the awesomeness of ancient Egypt to the masses
As Douglas Nickel writes in Francis Frith in Egypt and Palestine: A Victorian Photographer Abroad,