Remembering his photos

Paul Strand’s work will be featured in a retrospective for the first time in 50 years.

A man views Paul Strand’s photograph, “Wall Street, New York” while other patrons watch Strand’s first film, “Manhatta.” Jenny Kerrigan |TTN
A man views Paul Strand’s photograph, “Wall Street, New York” while other patrons watch Strand’s first film, “Manhatta.” Jenny Kerrigan |TTN

The hardwood floor of the vast gallery was lined with small pictures delicately placed on white walls.

Many of the visitors stood close to others in order to view the painstaking detail captured in the mostly black and white photos.

The Paul Strand retrospective at the Philadelphia Museum of Art is an intimate visit to different places and personal interactions with a variety of people, including Strand himself.

The exhibit runs from Oct. 21 to Jan. 4 and is the first major retrospective in nearly 50 years to be presenting Strand’s work. The retrospective features the evolution of his photographer over the past six years.

Many of the people featured in Strand’s 250 photos are from different time periods and communities ranging from New York to Ghana, the 1910s to 1960s, all captured in portraits through Strand’s lens.

The portraits also contain precise details from places around the world such as dew on a cobweb, a forest in Maine, or a religious figure in a church in Mexico.

“Strand was [a] very slow and meditative photographer,” said Amanda Bock, one of the curators of the exhibition. “He would spend two hours to get a picture of someone. It’s very different from today’s digital experience.”

“He’s one of the greatest photographers of all time,” she added. “Looking at his work is a look back on the 20th century, all ranging from prints to film, from New York to Luzzara.”

The Philadelphia Museum of Art is the only exhibit in America that will showcase the retrospective. It will be shown outside of the United States in Switzerland, Spain and England.

“Most prints are some of his most stunning work and won’t be here for a long time,” Bock said.

The exhibit was being promoted at the Philadelphia Museum of Art with the #STRANDGRAM takeover on its Instagram account. For one week, seven Philly photographers were featured and posted Strand-inspired photos. The public was encouraged to participate and share photos on social media for the chance to win a SIGMA camera and have their photo featured in the museum.

“Anybody interested in art, photography, history, or storytelling must see the exhibition,” said Eric Mencher, one of the local photographers featured on the PMA Instagram for the #STRANDGRAM takeover.

David Maialetti, a Temple alumnus and Daily News photographer that was also featured on the Instagram, posted photos from his recent trip to Luzzara, a town that Strand photographed about 60 years ago.

“I visited Luzzara in 2014 to take photographs of the place today,” Maialetti said. “My motivation to visit was definitely a combination of appreciation and curiosity about Strand’s work. It was the modern connection. I wanted to see what he saw in the people.”

Conrad Benner, another Philadelphia photographer featured on the Philadelphia Museum of Art’s Instagram account, describes his experience hosting the Instagram as a challenge.

“I paid attention more to my photos and tried to make a few of them black in white to pay homage to Strand’s work,” Benner said. “It was a challenge, but also very exciting and a great opportunity.”

“I think it’s great to get photographers to think about works from the past,” Bock said. “I don’t know what Strand would have made of Instagram, he never would have worked so quickly.”

Gabriella Lopez can be reached at

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