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Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods

  • Kind of Object:
    BookPhoto guide
  • Name:
    Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods

    Word Count: 6

  • Creator (Person):
    Walter Nurnberg
  • Year Start:
    1940
  • Year End:
    1940
  • Known addresses in Metromod cities:

    Focal Press, 31 Fitzroy Square, Fitzrovia, London W1.

  • City:
    London (GB)
  • Introduction:

    Lighting for Photography from 1940 by the émigré photographer Walter Nurnberg was one of a number of successful photo guides produced by Andor Kraszna-Krausz’s Focal Press publishing house.

    Word Count: 28

  • Content:

    Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods by Walter Nurnberg, published in 1940, was one of a number of successful photo guides produced by Andor Kraszna-Krausz’s Focal Press publishing house. Kraszna-Krausz had emigrated from Berlin to London in 1937 and founded Focal Press a year later. The publishing house specialised in photo books on the techniques, practice and history of photography and successfully published photo guidebooks for decades. Between 1938 and 1945 alone, Focal Press published about 140 titles. Three books from the company's founding year, namely W.H. Doering’s Life-like Portaiture: With your Camera (1938), Snaps of Children and How to Take Them by Alex Strasser (1938) and Phototips on Cats and Dogs. Not for Beginners Only by Edwin Smith (1938), already convey the publishing house’s orientation, which was to explain the techniques of everyday photography to amateur photographers and professional photographers in training.

    Step-by-step books like Walter Nurnberg’s Lighting for Photography (1940, second edition 1942) provide a clear introduction to “proper” photography. In addition to a comprehensive textual introduction, the explanation also shifts to the visual. Thus, on a double page (pp. 94–95), the creative possibilities of lighting are demonstrated and technically explained using the example of a portrait of a woman. These photographs were taken by Nurnberg himself, while other photographs have different authors. On the double page 116–117 two photographs by Willy Maywald and Karl Schenker are reproduced and show lighting in professional fashion photography. On pages 160–161, Nurnberg focuses on how to work with light on shiny surfaces in object photography. In these and other image examples in the book, dedicated for instance to object photography, it becomes clear that he considered the boundary between amateur and professional photographer (or professionalising amateur) to be fluid. Focal’s guidebooks conveyed technical knowledge and artistic approaches.  

    Six years after the publishing house was founded, the anthology Photography as a Career. Survey of the Present and Guide to the Future (1944) brought together many of the publisher’s authors and/or photographers. Photography as a Career was a guide to professionalisation – “how to become a photographer” (Kraszna-Krausz 1944, 5). For this book, Kraszna-Krausz was able to recruit internationally successful photographers such as Cecil Beaton and Howard Coster as authors, covering a variety of fields, from portraits to urban photography, and from advertising to fashion and press photography. Other authors who contributed were the industrial and advertising photographer Walter Nurnberg and Kurt Hübschmann (later Kurt Hutton), who belonged to the circle of photographers around Stefan Lorant and contributed to Lorant’s Picture Post and Lilliput magazines. Nurnberg and Hübschmann/Hutton had both emigrated to England and their texts were in part personal reflections on their careers in Germany and since emigration. Further cooperation was with the German photographer Josef Breitenbach, with whom he was involved for several several years in negotiations about a Paris book, intended as a textbook for urban and landscape photography and titled Fotografieren in der Stadt [Photography in the City]. Though Breitenbach travelled to London several times in 1938 and 1939, the correspondence shows that negotiations failed. It can be assumed that their failure to reach an agreement was related to design and finance

    The industrial photographer Walter Nurnberg (1907–1991) had studied photography with Werner Graeff at the Schule Reimann in Berlin. In 1934 Nurnberg emigrated to London, setting up as an advertising and commercial photographer and working from a rented studio in Aldwych House, Holborn (Wild n.d.). In 1937 he began teaching part-time at the Reimann School in London, while also writing for Focal Press and continuing his photographic work. The photographer Alex Strasser, who published many books with Focal Press, also taught photography at the Reimann School. Strasser had already successfully written photo guide literature in Germany with Wilhelm Knapp Verlag in Halle (Wiegand 2012, 48; Halwani 2008), such as Mit der Kamera im Schnee (1934) or Sommer, Sonne, Wochenende (1934). Focal Press took over some of Strasser’s German titles in the early days of the publishing house and translated them into English, including A Good Picture Every Time (1938, Jedenfalls gute Bilder (1935)) and Snaps of Children and How to Take Them (1938, Kinder-Bilder, wie man sie macht (1936)). Later, Alex Strasser published new photo guides with Focal Press in which he provided essential advice for amateur photographers (All about the right moment in action photography, 1940).

    Andor Kraszna-Krausz, Focal Press and its authors contributed to the establishment of the photo guide genre in Great Britain. Similar subject matter had already been successfully published in Germany in the 1920s and Kraszna-Krausz now imported these concepts for the British market, while at the same time expanding the range of topics: from 1941, Focal Press published the book series Classics of Photography. A History of Photography in Photographs. In the publisher’s programme preview, the series was described as a “school of vision” intended to raise awareness of the quality and aesthetics of photographic classics. It produced two survey works on early photographic history: Immortal Portraits (1941) and Victorian Photography (1942), selected and edited by Alex Strasser.
    Walter Nurnberg’s Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods (1940) became a bestseller whose 17th edition appeared in 1971. Nurnberg’s follow-up guidebook Lighting for Portraiture. Technique and Application (1948) was also successful and appeared in its 7th edition in 1969. Nurnberg served in the Pioneer Corps of the British Army during the Second World War. After 1945, Nurnberg became an important photographer of prospering British industry and received many commissions from companies (Ward 2004, 149). His photographs are characterised by the interplay between machines and people, including the physical processes carried out by the workers. Dramatic lighting characterises Nurnberg’s photographs: “Nurnberg brought cinematographic lighting techniques to his advertising work in London and later adapted this to his work in industry. He often used large numbers of powerful angled spotlights and massive flash equipment. Light, of course, produces shadow, a phenomenon that intrigued Nurnberg, who saw light and shadow as psychological forces.” (ibid., 152) It is clear, then, that Nurnberg’s two photography guides published by Focal Press, Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods and Lighting for Portraiture. Technique and Application were based on his own photographic practice and aesthetic values. With his books and his photographs, Walter Nurnberg thus left a lasting mark on lighting in photography.

    Word Count: 1016

  • Signature Image:
    Walter Nurnberg. Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods. Focal Press, 1942, 2nd edition, cover (Photo: Private Archive).
  • Media:
    Walter Nurnberg. Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods. Focal Press, 1942, 2nd edition, pp. 94–95 (Photo: Private Archive).
    Walter Nurnberg. Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods. Focal Press, 1942, 2nd edition, pp. 160–161 (Photo: Private Archive).
    Walter Nurnberg. Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods. Focal Press, 1942, 2nd edition, pp. 244–245 (Photo: Private Archive).
  • Bibliography (selected):

    Doering, W.H. Life-like Portaiture: With your Camera. Focal Press, 1938.

    Dorner, Jane. “The Immigrants. Andor Kraszna-Krausz: Pioneering Publisher in Photography.” Logos, vol. 15, no. 3, 2004, pp. 118–125. Brill, doi: https://doi.org/10.2959/logo.2004.15.3.118. Accessed 23 March 2021.

    Dorner, Jane. “Andor Kraszna-Krausz: Pioneering Publisher in Photography.” Immigrant Publishers. The Impact of Expatriate Publishers in Britain and America in the 20th Century, edited by Richard Abel and Gordon Graham, Transaction Publishers, 2009, pp. 99–110. Taylor & Francis, doi: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203789087. Accessed 24 March 2021.

    Halwani, Miriam. “Fotografie lesen. Zur Geschichte des Wilhelm Knapp Verlags.“ Fotogeschichte, vol. 28, no. 110, Winter 2008, pp. 23–34.

    Kraszna-Krausz, Andor, editor. Immortal Portraits. Selected and commented by Alex Strasser, Focal Press, 1941.

    Kraszna-Krausz, Andor. “The Cavalcade of Camera Careers.” Photography as a Career. Survey of the Present and Guide to the Future, edited by Andor Kraszna-Krausz, Focal Press, 1944, pp. 5–10.

    Kraszna-Krausz, Andor, editor. Photography as a Career. Survey of the Present and Guide to the Future. Focal Press, 1944.

    Nurnberg, Walter. Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods. Focal Press, 1940.

    Nurnberg, Walter. Lighting for Portraiture. Technique and Application. Focal Press, 1948.

    Osman, Colin. “Der Einfluß deutscher Fotografen im Exil auf die britische Pressefotografie.” Kunst im Exil in Großbritannien 1933–1945, exh. cat. Neue Gesellschaft für bildende Kunst, Berlin, 1986, pp. 83–87.

    Smith, Edwin. Phototips on Cats and Dogs. Not for Beginners Only. Focal Press, 1938.

    Strasser, Alex. A Good Picture Every Time. Focal Press, 1938.

    Strasser, Alex. Snaps of Children and How to Take Them. Focal Press, 1938.

    Strasser, Alex. All about the right moment in action photography. Focal Press, 1940.

    Strasser, Alex, editor. Victorian Photography. Being an Album of Yesterday’s Camera Work. Focal Press, 1942.

    Ward, John. “The Walter Nurnberg photograph collection at the National Museum of Photography, Film & Television, Bradford.” Presenting Pictures, edited by Bernard Finn, NMSI Trading Ltd, 2004, pp. 146–156.

    Wiegand, Thomas. “Photographieren mit Lachen leicht zu lernen! Ratgeberliteratur für Fotografen und Fotoamateure.” Autopsie. Deutschsprachige Fotobücher 1918 bis 1945, vol. 1, edited by Manfred Heiting and Roland Jaeger, Steidl, 2012, pp. 46–71.

    Wild, James L. “Distinguished Photographer’s Industrial Prints.” n.d., Industrial Museum Wales, https://museum.wales/media/3435/walter%20nurnberg%20photos.pdf. Accessed 10 March 2021.

    Word Count: 335

  • Archives and Sources:

    Andor Kraszna-Krausz Archive, Science Museum Group, Bradford, UK.

    Walter Nurnberg Archive, Science Museum Group, Bradford, UK.

    Word Count: 16

  • Acknowledgements:

    My thanks go to Kendra Bean from the National Science and Media Museum collections in Bradford, who gave me access to the Andor Kraszna-Krausz Archive.

    Word Count: 25

  • Author:
    Burcu Dogramaci
  • Metropolis:
    London
  • Entry in process:
    no
  • Burcu Dogramaci. "Lighting for Photography. Means and Methods." METROMOD Archive, 2021, https://archive.metromod.net/viewer.p/69/1470/object/5140-11251956, last modified: 21-06-2021.
  • Reimann School, London
    Art School

    The Reimann School in London opened in 1937 and was a branch of the Berlin Schule Reimann, training students in commercial art and industrial design.

    Word Count: 24

    Reimann School, London, leaflet, January 1937, detail (HA Rothholz Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives).
    Reimann School, London, leaflet, January 1937, front cover (HA Rothholz Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives).Reimann School, London, leaflet, January 1937, back cover (HA Rothholz Archive, University of Brighton Design Archives).Advertisement for Reimann School, London in The Manchester Guardian, 24 February 1938, p. 1 (Photo: Private Archive).Private Wire. “New School for Commercial Art.” The Manchester Guardian, 13 January 1937, p. 10 (Photo: Private Archive).Anonymous. “Canadians in Art World in Britain.” The Province, 28 January 1939, p. 45 (Photo: Private Archive). Article mentioning the diploma of a young Canadian student.
    London
    Josef Breitenbach
    Photographer

    On arriving in New York in 1941, the German photographer Josef Breitenbach tried to restart as a portrait, street and experimental photographer, as well as a teacher of photo-history and techniques.

    Word Count: 30

    Fred Stein, Joseph Breitenbach, n.d. (© Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Deutsches Exilarchiv 1933-1945, Frankfurt am Main).
    Fred Stein, Backside portrait Joseph Breitenbach, n.d. (© Deutsche Nationalbibliothek. Deutsches Exilarchiv 1933-1945, Frankfurt am Main).Attestation of Identity of Josef Breitenbach, Agen, September 1940 (© The Josef and Yaye Breitenbach Charitable Foundation, courtesy of The Center for Creative Photography, Josef Breitenbach Archive, AG90:5).Affidavit for Josef Breitenbach, April 1941 (© The Josef and Yaye Breitenbach Charitable Foundation, courtesy of The Center for Creative Photography, Josef Breitenbach Archive, AG90:12).Address book Josef Breitenbach, New York (© The Josef and Yaye Breitenbach Charitable Foundation, courtesy of The Center for Creative Photography, Josef Breitenbach Archive, AG90:6).Page with collected addresses of photographers in New York by Josef Breitenbach (© The Josef and Yaye Breitenbach Charitable Foundation, courtesy of The Center for Creative Photography, Josef Breitenbach Archive, AG90:6).Page with collected addresses of colleagues at the New School for Social Research in New York by Josef Breitenbach (© The Josef and Yaye Breitenbach Charitable Foundation, courtesy of The Center for Creative Photography, Josef Breitenbach Archive, AG90:6).Application for use of photographic equipment by Josef Breitenbach, 1942 (© The Josef and Yaye Breitenbach Charitable Foundation, courtesy of The Center for Creative Photography, Josef Breitenbach Archive, AG90:12).Business card Josef Breitenbach (© The Josef and Yaye Breitenbach Charitable Foundation, courtesy of The Center for Creative Photography, Josef Breitenbach Archive, AG90:6).Letter from Fortune Magazine, 1942 (© Josef Breitenbach Archive, AG90:4, Center for Creative Photography, The University of Arizona).
    New York
    Lilliput
    Magazine

    The magazine Lilliput, founded by the émigré journalist Stefan Lorant in 1937, gave work to emigrated artists and photographers such as Kurt Hutton, Walter Suschitzky, Walter Trier and Edith Tudor-Hart.

    Word Count: 29

    Lilliput, vol. 6, no. 2, 1940, cover by Walter Trier (METROMOD Archive).
    Lilliput, vol. 3, 1938, p. 10: “The Beautiful Llama”, Spohr, Cape Town and p. 11: “Mr. Neville Chamberlain”, photo: “, photo: Wide World, London (Photo: Private Archive).Lilliput, vol. 3, 1938, p. 223: “The Ruler of Germany”, photo: Keystone, London and p. 224: “The Terror of the Zoo”, photo: A. P., London (Photo: Private Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, cover by Walter Trier (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, contents for October (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, p. 322: “We shall conquer the world: German Propaganda Minister, Dr. Goebbels”, photo: Schall, Paris and p. 323: “Goodness! I’m all of a-tremble. Sea-lion in the Zoo”, photo: Keystone, London (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, p. 332: drawing by Walter Trier and p. 333: “Sea Spray” by T. Thompson (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 5, no. 4, 1939, p. 411: “Fate in Five Words” by Alfred Polgar (METROMOD Archive). A short story on the homelessness of émigrés.Lilliput, vol. 6, no. 2, 1940, p. 148: “The Beauty of the snow: The painter who tries to capture it”, photo: Dulovits, Budapest and p. 149: “Three Stories” by Ferenc Molnar (METROMOD Archive).Lilliput, vol. 4, 1939, p. 426: “Should we have this? A beauty parlour for dogs”, photo: Edith Tudor-Hart, c. 1937 and p. 427: “Must we have this? A London slum”, photo: Edith Tudor-Hart, c. 1936 (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).Lilliput, vol. 6, 1940, p. 311: “London Snowstorm”, photo: Wolf Suschitzky (© The Estate of Wolfgang Suschitzky).Advertisement for Lilliput in the first issue of Picture Post, vol. 1, 1938, p. 2 (Photo: Private Archive). Both magazines were founded by Stefan Lorant.Essay on Lilliput in the first issue of Picture Post, vol. 1, 1938, p. 73 (Photo: Private Archive).Advertisement for Lilliput in Picture Post, vol. 3, 1939, p. 2: overview on Walter Trier’s covers (Photo: Private Archive).
    London