I then took the Meyerowitz's photo
Fallen Man, Paris
1967. Likewise he also has a photograph called
Fallen Horse, Spain 1967
which can be compared to that of Doisneau. Meyerowitz started in black and white photography and was one of the first photographers to switch into color photography. Black and white photography was considered to be the only true way to achieve a serious art photograph. Meyerowitz and others changed that. Interestingly he was the first photographer to be allowed access to the World Trade Center after the attack on 9/11.
Not only did he explore in color film but he began to change his photographic center and went to a kind of off center technique that showed the main activity in his photos -- the primary event or action in a corner.
Thus the action became sometimes unnoticed or a non-event. In Fallen
Man Paris, 1967
the man is not the center of the photo and so his falling becomes almost unimportant. As we can see the man is on his back legs in the air but life goes on. A woman continues down a flight of stairs to the subway, men are on their busy way -- in fact, a workman seems to step over the man as he continues on his destination. The traffic of the city takes center stage and the man's fall is marginalized to a non-event in the face of the bustling city around him.
The photo is in color though students didn't pick it up as an initial comment when comparing the two photos. The sunlight and grouping of white automobiles in the intersection seemed to lessen the strength of color in the photo. Students found the Meyerowitz photo to be less sympathetic than that of Doisneau's
(1942). When we compared them they felt that the people in the Doisneau photo seemed more sympathetic to the horse and rushed to help. In the Meyerowitz photo the man seemed to get little more than a glance and the workman with the hammer was stepping around the man. A few students suggested that the workman might have hit the fallen man with his hammer.
No one was sure that the man would be helped. We speculated that while the man on the bike and the woman going down to the subway looked at the man it didn't seem likely that they would stop and go help the man. Why was the photo called
? While students felt the most important action in the photo should be the fallen man, he was out of place in the scene and should have gotten our attention but it didn't work out that way. Most students said that in looking at the photo they first saw the traffic and the man got their attention later when they looked closely at what was going on.
What did this photo say about living in a city? Some recognized that there were so many things happening that the man could go unnoticed. Doisneau's
seemed to be less busy and we as viewers of the scene feel that horse will get help. The horse is not competing for our attention. Looking at their faces we feel that the people are more concerned.
I did not speak to my students about the fact that there was speculation that the photo was staged. Would it matter to them? Was a photo or story only good if it were true? What about narrative stories that were all or part fiction?