“Photography is a bridge between science and art. It brings to science what it needs most, the artistic sense and to art art proof that nothing can be imagined which cannot be matched in the counterpoints of nature” – Ernst Haas
Ernst Haas is one of the most important figures of the 20th Century. He was considered to be a pioneering artist artist in colour photography not only by photographers of our generation but also by his peers.
Henri Cartier – Bresson and Elliott Erwitt considered him as one of the greats in the filed. Ansel Adams once wrote “Photography is a better art because you exist”. What Jay Maisel said about him was “It is rare that the man equals the artist. His work was awesome, not just to me but to an entire generation of photographers. The depth and breadth of it will emerge for years to come. I think it will be a startling revelation because he was as prolific as he was sensitive. He had a different head. It wasn’t overly crammed with photography; it was full of music, art, philosophy and history. In short, he was rarity, a well-educated man without cynicism, in love with the work around him.”
He was one of those rare photographers who was simply gifted. He work as both a commercial photographer and photojournalist but his true talent was seen through his personal work. He worked as an for companies such as Volkswagen and Marlboro – he was the one behind the camera shooting the Marlboro Man.
He took up photography after the war and his early work on the Austrian returning prisoners of war brought him to the attention of LIFE magazine.
In 1953, LIFE magazine published his 24 page colour photo essay on New York. This being first large colour feature published by LIFE across two issues called “Magic Images Of A City”. It was the first colour story for the magazine. This essay went on to be exhibited by New York’s museum of Modern Art. This essay helped to overcome the resistance of colour photography as an art form and popularised abstraction as a photographic style.
He was one of those photographers that always pushed himself and experimented a lot. He used slow shutter speed to create impressionistic blurs to create express dynamic motion through a static moment. His aim was to liberate himself from old concept and create an image in which the spectator could feel the beauty of a fourth dimension, which lies more between moments than within a moment. Using this technique, he created an essay called “Painting with the camera” in 1958.
Haas took inspiration from the world around him, whether it was music, literature, painting, or people.
In his later years, Haas experimented with audiovisual presentations, combining music and poetry with his images. He was a pioneer, always ahead of his time in terms of technology, and believed that a series of images seen together added up to more than the sum of their parts. He was continuously trying to find new ways to express himself – pushing the limits of what his camera could do and what he could do with it.
During his lifetime, he had written four books:
- The Creation (1971)
- In America (1975)
- In Germany (1976)
- Himalayan Pilgrimage (1978)
He received the Hasselblad Award in 1986 the year of his death.
Here are a few of my favourite quotes by Ernst Haas
- “The most important lens you have is your legs” – E. Haas
- “The camera doesn’t make a bit of difference. All of them can record what you are seeing. But, you have to see” – E. Haas
- “They are 2 kinds of photographers: those who compose pictures and those who take them. The former work in studios. For the latter, the studio is the world. For them, the ordinary doesn’t exist: every thing in life is a source of nourishment” – E. Haas
- “Learn by doing or even better unlearn by doing” – E. Haas
- “There is only you and camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself, for what we see is what we are”. – E. Haas
- “Style has no formula, but it has a secret key. It is the extension of your personality. The summation of this indefinable net of your feeling, knowledge and experience”. – E. Haas
- “Only a vision – that is what one must have” – E. Haas
Here are a few of Ernst Haas work