|Dates: ||1886, 28 April - 1944, 7 July|
|Born: ||Germany, Berlin|
|Died: ||Poland, Auschwitz|
German photographer who took advantage of the lighter cameras of the 1920s to take candid shots of political events.
Erich Salomon was a key figure in the development of modern photojournalism. He graduated in law in 1913 before being called up for military service. When war ended he returned to Berlin and in 1925 he got a job in the publicity department of the publishers Ullstein. He bought a large-format press camera before acquiring a more compact Ermanox in 1927.
After publishing his first press photograph in the Berliner Illustrierte Zeitung in 1928, Salomon set himself up as a freelance photographer and journalist. He travelled widely in Europe and America and soon became known for his off-guard pictures of politicians, sporting events and celebrities. Salomon went to such great lengths to disguise his camera that the editor of Graphic coined the term ‘candid photography’ to describe his clandestine technique. In 1931 he published a book of his work entitled Famous Contemporaries in Unguarded Moments and in 1935 held an exhibition at the Royal Photographic Society in London. However, the rise of the Nazis meant that from 1933 Salomon, who was Jewish, was no longer able to publish in German magazines, so he moved with his family to The Hague in the Netherlands. He was discovered by the Nazi authorities in 1944 and, with his wife and son Dirk, deported to Theresienstadt in Czechoslovakia and then on to Auschwitz.
This biography is courtesy and copyright of the Victoria & Albert Museum and is included here with permission.
Date last updated: 11 Nov 2011.
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Biography provided by Focal Press
Using available light and the new miniature cameras with fast lenses, first the Ermanox f.2 with glass plates and then the Leica Model A which used 35 mm motion picture stock, Salomon pioneered modern photojournalism. Beginning in the 1920s, he successfully captured unaware and unposed politicians, diplomats, business magnates, and royalty with his often hidden camera, a keen sense of timing and an uncanny ability to gain access to his subjects. The phrase "candid photography" was coined by a London art critic in 1929 in response to his work. His published work Celebrated Contemporaries in Unguarded Moments, exemplifies his remarkable talent for capturing the revealing psychological moment. Interned by the Nazis and killed along with his wife and a son at Auschwitz concentration camp.
(Author: Garie Waltzer - Photographer and consultant)
Michael Peres (Editor-in-Chief), 2007, Focal Encyclopedia of Photography, 4th edition, (Focal Press) [ISBN-10: 0240807405, ISBN-13: 978-0240807409]
(Used with permission)
Readings on, or by, individual photographers
Hunter-Salomon, Peter, 1967, Erich Salomon: Portrait of an Age, (New York: Macmillan) [Δ]
Salomon, Erich, 1931, Berühmte Zeitgenossen in unbewachten Augenblicken, (Stuttgart: Engelhorns Nachf.) [English translation of the title: "Celebrated Contemporaries in Unguarded Moments"] [Δ]
Salomon, Erich, 1963, Porträt einer Epoch, (Frankfurt and Berlin: Verlag Ullstein) [Δ]
Salomon, Erich, 1975, Portrait of an Age, (New York: Collier Books) [Δ]
Salomon, Erich, 1978, Erich Salomon, (Millerton, NY: Aperture) [Δ]
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|Family history |
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The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.
|• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.162 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] |
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.442
• Fernandez, Horacio (ed.) 2000 Fotografía Pública: Photography in Print 1919-1939 (Aldeasa) p.217 [This Spanish exhibition catalogue is one of the best sources for illustrations of photomontage and book design for the period between the two World Wars.]
• International Center of Photography 1999 Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection (New York: A Bulfinch Press Book) p.226 [Includes a well written short biography on Erich Salomon with example plate(s) earlier in book.]
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.227 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.]
If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.