Minor White - Abstract Photographer

Double Navel 1947, Minor White

Double Navel, 1947

Photographer Minor Martin White was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 9, 1908 and died in Cambridge, MA on June 24, 1976. His photographic foray started in 1937, though he had been a childhood hobbyist upon receiving a box Brownie camera from his late grandfather. He graduated to a 35 mm Argus camera around this time, and through publications he was inspired by the work of Berenice Abbott, Ansel Adams, Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Weston. He would later meet many of these people and establish friendships and working relationships with them.

Minor White's photographic approach became less interested in objects or subject matter at face-value, and became obliged to the emotions that could be evoked from the viewer through symbolic associations. He used real world subject matter to convey the artist's personal feelings symbolically. He would learn the Equivalence theory from Alfred Steiglitz (his biggest influence), where the image stands for something other than the subject shown.

White eventually used his own brand of meditation just before analyzing how he wanted to present a given image, even before snapping a shot. White furthered the development of The Zone System (first coined by Ansel Adams) as a philosophy that involves extensive planning and previsualization of a photograph. It is based on understanding what photographic materials can do and learning to form a mental image before snapping the picture.

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