Be a news photographer. | Alec Soth | The Art Assignment | Summary and Q&A

December 3, 2015
The Art Assignment
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Be a news photographer. | Alec Soth | The Art Assignment


Photographer Alec Soth explores the blurred lines between art photography and photojournalism through his large-scale photo projects.

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Key Insights

  • 🌍 Alec Soth's work blurs the line between art photography and photojournalism, incorporating elements from both worlds.
  • 🛟 Soth finds value in capturing the often mundane aspects of daily life and community events.
  • 🪡 The internet has made it easier for individuals to report and photograph stories, eliminating the need for traditional credentials.
  • ❓ The myth of objectivity highlights the importance of recognizing individual biases in reporting and photography.
  • 📜 The Farm Security Administration's photography program in the 1930s and 1940s documented poverty and introduced Americans to their own country.
  • 👻 Soth's collaboration with Brad Zellar allowed him to engage with community and create a fictional newspaper, providing unique perspectives on stories.
  • 👯 Approaching strangers for photography or reporting is often less intimidating than initially perceived, as many people appreciate and enjoy the attention.


SARAH URIST GREEN: This episode of "The Art Assignment" is brought to you by Squarespace. [MUSIC PLAYING] We're in Saint Paul, Minnesota, today to meet up with photographer Alec Soth, who makes large scale photo projects that manifest in prints, exhibitions, and books. He works in a variety of formats, but is known for using a large format 8 by 10 ... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How did Alec Soth's early photography jobs shape his perspective on subject matter?

Soth's experience working as a photographer for a suburban newspaper made him realize the value in capturing everyday moments and the often overlooked aspects of daily life in a community.

Q: What does Soth encourage viewers to focus on when capturing a story?

Soth advises photographers to look beyond the main event, and instead, find something a little unusual or capture moments before or after the event to provide a different perspective on the story.

Q: What does Sarah Urist Green point out about reporting and photography in the internet age?

Urist Green suggests that with the internet, access to information and the ability to report on stories has become easier for everyone. She emphasizes that objectivity is a myth, and people bring their own biases while reporting or taking photographs.

Q: Can you provide more information about the Farm Security Administration's photography program?

The Farm Security Administration (FSA) sponsored a photography program during the Great Depression that aimed to document poverty, defend federal relief efforts, and introduce Americans to their own country. Through this program, influential photographers like Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Gordon Parks captured powerful images that conveyed the harsh realities of the time.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Alec Soth is a photographer known for his large format camera work, focusing mainly on series such as "Sleeping By the Mississippi" and "Niagara."

  • His photography projects often delve into American life, but his work goes beyond simple documentation and incorporates elements of fine art and editorial photography.

  • Soth has also experimented with different roles, such as posing as a reporter and publishing a series of tabloids documenting stories around the US.

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