The German photographer Erich Salomon is generally celebrated in historiography as an ingenious photographer who was the first to photograph dignitaries, including Dutch politicians, in relaxed poses and portraying them as real people of flesh and blood. He achieved this by using the snapshot and candid camera ‘method’. Rather than focusing on Salomon himself, this article considers the contexts within which he worked and the developments that preceded his popularity. The fact that his photos were seen to be special (representing a breakaway from his colleagues ‘political’ photos) and yet not shocking, indicates that the readers of illustrated magazines were apparently open to images of dignitaries in relaxed poses. Although politicians had as a rule been portrayed in a stiff and formal way previously, photorealism already brought them somewhat closer to the public. The process of narrowing the gap between politics and the public got underway as early as the second half of the nineteenth century and various developments in politics, journalism, photography and technology were already pointing to a tendency to personalise and popularise politics and politicians. This article describes these developments and shows that Salomon’s work was in line with the general trend to personalise photography. As such it is intended to do greater justice to the historical context and continuity within which Salomon operated.

Netherlands Institute for Sound and Vision
Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis

Kester, Bernadette. (2013). Breuk en continuüm: Erich Salomon en de personalisering van de politiek in geïllustreerde tijdschriften. Tijdschrift voor Mediageschiedenis, 15(2), 57–80. doi:10.18146/tmg.288