LaSalle Street at Amsterdam Avenue1946 by Todd Webb

...Children figure in quite a number of Webb's greatest photos from the post-war years. Webb was not a "decisive moment" photographer like Henri Cartier-Bresson. Since Webb's bulky Deardorff camera took quite a bit of time to set-up, it is remarkable that he was able to achieve the degree of spontaneity that he did get.

In the case of one of Webb's most beloved pictures, LaSalle Street at Amsterdam Avenue,1946, the circle of children dancing around a sprinkler pipe looks like a posed shot. One of the girls looks over her shoulder, to see if Webb is taking the photo. In contrast, the book also includes two other, more natural, pictures of the same children, standing around, dripping wet, or hoping around in the sprinkler.

Further reflection makes me think that, if the dancing picture was posed, it was probably the children themselves who decided to form a circle and put on a show for Webb. Yet they don't look like they are "showing-off." Webb lived nearby and the children would have known and trusted him. This photo, as a result doesn't look "staged" in a contrived, artificial way. They are kids being kids, though they know an adult is watching.
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Imported from:
Media: photography
Period / movement: street photography