Nordic Light 2012
Brooklyn Gang, 1959 Spiegel © Bruce Davidson
Circus The dwarf, 1958 © Bruce Davidson
Brooklyn Gang, 1959 Cigarete © Bruce Davidson
East 100th Street, 1968 Kennedy © Bruce Davidson
East 100th Street kind © Bruce Davidson
© Bruce Davidson, courtesy infocus galerie
Brooklyn Gang, 1959 Bus © Bruce Davidson, courtesy infocus galerie
One of the festival’s attractions is that you can meet your photographic heroes face to face; whether at a lecture, a book signing, on the street, in the artist’s gallery or at the festival bar. “Meet the legends” is the slogan featured on posters spread across the festival’s hometown, and Nordic Light keeps its promises. Each year Kristiansund is visited by photographers who we might only get a chance to meet in the flesh once in a lifetime. Bruce Davidson is one of these legends. Since the 50s and 60s, he has dominated the field of classic documentary photography. We have seen his pictures many times, but maybe without knowing who is behind the camera.
“We can only acknowledge his pictures and his entire artistic vision. These are world renowned photographs,” says Morten Krogvold, Artistic Director at Nordic Light. “Bruce Davidson is undoubtedly one of the most influential and important photographers of our time, and it is an honour to finally be able to enjoy his company during this year’s festival.”
Bruce’s love of photography started at the early age of seven when he got his first camera. This he used to photograph his neighbourhood in the suburb of Oak Park, Illinois. “Most boys of my age had a dog,” he says laughing, “I had a camera.”
He persuaded his mother to let him make his own darkroom in the cellar, and his future career as a photographer seems to have developed naturally from this point on. As a 16-year-old he won first prize in the Kodak National High School Competition, and before he knew it he found himself on the streets of Chicago taking photographs of city life. He continued his schooling at The Rochester Institute of Technology and Yale University. He carried out his military service in Paris, where he was also introduced to Henri Cartier-Bresson. After completing his military service in 1957 he worked as a freelance photographer for Life magazine, and by 1959 he was accepted as a full member of the prestigious photo agency Magnum.
Bruce’s best known pictures were done between 1958 and 1965. These are the legendary photo series, such as The Dwarf, Brooklyn Gang and The Civil Rights Movement. They were followed by East 100th Street, Central Park and Subway, and he has recently published a monumental anthology consisting of three books that cover his entire life’s work.
Bruce’s photographs are distinguished by an impressive use of light and shadow to portray feelings. He is one of the giants of documentary photography, a major inspiration for mange photographers, and an icon whose work was imitated during the 70s, 80s and 90s in Scandinavia. However, he gives Cartier-Bresson the honour for prompting his decision to focus primarily on documentary photography.
This star photographer has a portfolio that is both unique and awe-inspiring. Despite this, he remains humble. Bruce Davidson has been in the right place at the right time; he saw great pictures and captured them. “I am merely a humanist,” he says. “I just photograph the human condition as I experience it”.