The era of the great master photographers is over

Growing up in the house of a photo journalist was exciting and informative
Salmon Fisher at Celilio Falls
Salmon Fisher at Celilio Falls, 1956

Looking at photos has become one of the most elementar activities, a reality that has to do with the fact that today everyone is a photographer. People everywhere take good pictures, we live in the period of depiction. The era of the great masters is over. What remains are the gems of the analog years.

Man reading Newspaper at Brandenburg Gate
Befor the wall, 1960

The photo illustrated age began, when in 1826, with a simple view of asphalt (the result of several hours of exposure) Frenchman Nicéphore Niépce succeeded in capturing images with his Camera Obscura.

The democratisation followed as early as 1888 - thanks to Kodak - with the introduction of an instrument that was affordable for (almost) everyone. Now it was possible for people all over the world to freeze the moment.

After a long period of arguing back and forth whether the new invention was art or science or perhaps the devil's tool, a new type of photographer emerged, partly with the help of those amateurs, who had helped the new medium out of the “tight corset” of just reproducing the existing. The PHOTO REPORTER was born.

Man eating ice cream
Anchorage, 1959

This new profession did not care if it was considered art. The medium had become faster. Now it was all about reporting, and telling stories with pictures.

It was a time before television, and it was a time before the internet. People got informed and entertained by reading, and looking at picture magazines.

Group of peole watching train
Peru, 1954

During the last moments of that time, I grew up as the son of a photographer couple. Cameras, lights, and all the other equipment and photographic materials, were a natural part of my life.

I remember times when there were more AGFA, ILFORD and KODAK film rolls than food in our fridge. The smell of dark room materials and chemicals still brings me back to my childhood. I remember watching my father at work in his studio, organising, looking at his negatives with a magnifying glass on the light table. In my younger years, he didn't talk much about his job. When he noticed me sitting on the steps, observing him, he would say things like: "One didn't take such bad photos".

I think that during this time he often wondered, what his career would have been like if he had stayed in the USA, where the first wave of enthusiasts and connoisseurs had established the fine art photography market, and had transformed it into a successful, lucrative and much-discussed art form.

Photography owes much to the early days of its discovery through high class art directors, courageous gallerists, dealers, editors, collectors, art critics and most of all an open minded and curious audience.

People in front of a shop window
Moscow, 1956

I learned to read pictures at an early age. All over our house Gelatin Silver Prints were decorating the walls. There were magazines on every table. Growing up in the house of a photo-journalist was exciting and informative. I was privileged to have constant access to publications like Life, Twen and Stern.

Young woman at the beach in sochi
Sochi, 1956

I remember one image in particular. A beautiful girl on the beach in Sochi. She was my "first big love", (although only in my imagination) and it is because of her, that I had an affinity for people from the sovjet union from an early age.

I was present, and sometimes even had to assist when my parents were working in the studio. I experienced at first hand the high art of portraiture, which my mother has mastered perfectly to this day and which my father only achieved if he was genuinely interested in the person in front of his lens.

Nurse with patient
Israel, 1956

Exhibitions in art galleries, museums and auctions have become commonplace. On those occasions where red wine, and sometimes peanuts are served, and where people talk as if they had a hot potato in their mouth, it is hard to imagine under what adventurous circumstances many of the great moments were recorded. Art fairs have become a circus like affair, although without the "wild animals".

Of course there are exceptions, and some of the mad and frantic photo dealers that I have met in Paris, during my years living in the photo-capital of the world, keep the business pleasantly surprising.

The legacy left by the greats, among whom I count not only photographers, but all those who pressed for constant quality and renewal; who pushed technology, aesthetics and social use of true stories, are my motivation to share Peter Bock-Schroeder's story with the world.

Man looking at Picasso Painting
Peter Bock-Schroeder, Peru 1954

After being lost in the jungle of Peru for three days, Peter Bock-Schroeder reached the Catholic Mission, "Heart of the Amazon" and got drunk with the Nuns and personel.



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