AP fotog in Toyland

Bern, Switzerland at dusk after a snowfall. (AP photo by Peter Claunzer)

Bern, Switzerland at dusk after a snowfall. (AP photo by Peter Klaunzer)

Who would not want to live in this photograph? It is Bern, Switzerland. The photo, shot by Peter Klaunzer for the Associated Press, was published in today’s Providence Journal. Don’t ask me why I’ve taken two lovely city shots from the Journal in recent days. I am flabbergasted that they ran at all.

It reminds me that even in the era before it began shedding photographers as if they were water off a duck’s back, the paper’s photo stylebook seemed to nix any pix that caught the setting of an event. I remember searching through the entire fat file of Brown graduation photos; none showed the Benefit Street setting of the annual parade of graduates. Only the people mattered. If an aircraft carrier were to sail up Narragansett Bay, enter Providence and dock in the river between downtown and College Hill – an impossibility, but stay with me here – the Journal wouldn’t run a wide-angle shot of the carrier backdropped by skyscrapers but a zoom of two Navy seamen holding hands on the flight deck (or some other people-centric detail of interest to the Journal’s photo desk).

It’s not that people don’t matter, it’s that the Journal never seemed to have any sense of balance in its photo selection. So maybe these two recent seasonal pictures in the Journal (including one of GUM in Moscow) were not shot by Journal photographers, but suddenly shots of places are actually showing up in the paper for a change. Good work!

About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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3 Responses to AP fotog in Toyland

  1. SteveMouzon says:

    Interesting, David… never realized there might be such a prejudice at a newspaper, but I can see it once you’ve said it. In any case, fabulous shot!


    • Yeah, and “place” is so photogenic. But after I looked for a pic for a piece on Brown’s graduation ceremony back in the 1990s. Not one shot of the parade over a span of many years had any background view. It became a fetish and I started tracking the tendencies. It’s not that there was never any picture of a place, or of people with their setting included as backdrop, it’s just that it was remarkably rare. Exactly the sort of diktat a newsroom committee would generate – pictures must focus only on people!

      Liked by 1 person

      • SteveMouzon says:

        Wow… you could make a meme out of that, David! “Hunting for Context” or something of the sort. Get lots of people in on the search… a “where’s Waldo,” except with much more meaning.


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