Podcast: Staying Power—History and Photography, with Barbara Mensch

Photography has long been used as a tool to explore and analyze history, but in the hands of an artist, that same tool is not asked to be exacting or accurate to the historical record. If anything, artists challenge this idea of photography as fact. And for this reason, it is such a pleasure to welcome artist and photographer Barbara Mensch to the B&H Photography Podcast. Mensch has created a book of history by using photographs she took as an artist.

Having lived in the shadow of the Brooklyn Bridge for many years, she photographed the bridge in varied light and perspective, but it was not until she ventured inside the bridge's anchorage that she become interested in using her photographic story as the basis for a researched and nuanced study of the three principle creators of the Brooklyn Bridge. The book, In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators, is the successful result of her work, and we talk with Mensch about reevaluating older work, the endurance needed to complete a long project, the ability of photography to tell stories, and about square format and Hasselblad.

In the second half of the program, we take up Mensch’s current book project, which also re-addresses earlier work, in this case from her wonderful series on the workers of the South Street Seaport or, as it was then called, the “waterfront.” Here we discuss the intrapersonal skills needed to photograph in authentic, yet potentially dangerous situations, the creative and youthful zeal that fuels such projects, and even about Bergger photography paper. Join us for this engaging conversation.

Guest: Barbara Mensch

Photographs © Barbara Mensch

From “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators” © Barbara Mensch
From “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators” © Barbara Mensch
From “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators” © Barbara Mensch
From “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators” © Barbara Mensch
From “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators” © Barbara Mensch
From “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators” © Barbara Mensch
From “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators” © Barbara Mensch
From “In the Shadow of Genius: The Brooklyn Bridge and Its Creators” © Barbara Mensch
Klebber’s Murder © Barbara Mensch
Klebber’s Murder © Barbara Mensch
Child in Shoe Bin, Lower East Side © Barbara Mensch
Child in Shoe Bin, Lower East Side © Barbara Mensch
From the upcoming book, "Ghosts of South Street" © Barbara Mensch
From the upcoming book, "Ghosts of South Street" © Barbara Mensch
From the upcoming book, "Ghosts of South Street" © Barbara Mensch
From the upcoming book, "Ghosts of South Street" © Barbara Mensch
From the upcoming book, "Ghosts of South Street" © Barbara Mensch
From the upcoming book, "Ghosts of South Street" © Barbara Mensch
From the upcoming book, "Ghosts of South Street" © Barbara Mensch
From the upcoming book, "Ghosts of South Street" © Barbara Mensch

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: John Harris
Senior Producer: Jason Tables
Executive Producer: Lawrence Neves

2 Comments

Thank you so much for these podcasts. Thanks to the host and to the producers ! In every podcast you do a very good job !

Also many thanks to Barabara Mensch for her inspiring words on her work and on "working as a photographer", making clear the differencesbetween photos and pictures, etc... 

From Belgium, with love, thank you all, patrick

Thank you Patrick for this kind comment and for listening to the show, it's great to know we have photographer friends in Belgium.  And yes, Barbara was a wonderful guest and offered much insight into the nuanced differences between taking pictures and making art. Thanks again

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