In many ways August Sander is the father of street photography as we know it today. His great project Man of the Twentieth Century aimed to document the people and typologies of the area, near Cologne, where he lived. Sander declared “I am not concerned with providing commonplace photographs like those made in the finer large-scale studios of the city, but simple, natural portraits that show the subjects in an environment corresponding to their own individuality”.
He went out in to the streets and countryside on his bicycle, photographing the people he met. He is best known for his full length portraits which not only describe the social role that people wanted to portray to the camera but also hint at the personality of the individual. He said “[w]e know that people are formed by the light and air, by their inherited traits, and their actions. We can tell from appearance the work someone does or does not do; we can read in his face whether he is happy or troubled”. His book Face of Our Time was published in 1929 but unfortunately when the Nazis came to power in the 1930s they banned his book and work, probably because his photographs showed a varied population which did not adhere to their Aryan ideals.
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