Laszlo shooting the streets of Berlin.
Laszlo shooting the streets of Berlin.

László Moholy-Nagy was one of the main drivers in the BAUHAUS movement, who focused mainly on photography.

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His importance

Laszlo Moholy-Nagy coined the concept, “Neues Sehen” (new vision)… it sounds like “New Sense” to me.

Moholy-Nagy-Nagy believed that photography could help us see the world in a different way.

The New Vision, From Material to Architecture

His book to study:

PDF: The New Vision, from Material to Architecture.”

Some personal notes:

Why Laszlo Moholy-Nagy?

I’m very interested in the BAUHAUS art movement, which eventually made art accessible to the masses, through beautifully (and functionally) useful objects of everyday living.

BAUHAUS believed that art should serve a practical purpose, something I believe in.

I’m fascinated how Laszlo Moholy-Nagy combined art, sculpture, perspective, and photography. Not only that, but he was the main drivers of making innovations in photography. As photographers, we owe him a great deal of respect.

1. Art is experiencing a sense of “space”

“The experience of space is not a privilege of the gifted few, but a biological function.”

A sense of space, or dimension, or perspective… is a biological function we needed to survive. We needed it to see the depth a predator was from us.

My theory: great art confuses our sense of perception. An interesting work of art flattens perspective, warps it (with a wide angle lens) or confuses us (when we shoot from very high perspectives, or very low perspectives).

2. Design as life and social integration

“Design… is the integration of technological, social, and economical requirements, biological necessities, and the psychological effects of materials, shape, color, volume and space.”

I like this idea of design being all-encompassing. That isn’t just the visual, but the social, and technological. Also, the psychological effects of art on the human mind and spirit.

3. Ignore Art Critics on Photography

“It cannot be too plainly stated that it is quite unimportant whether photography produces ‘art’ or not. Its own basic laws, not the opinions of art critics, will provide the only valid measure of its future worth.”

Ignore art critics who don’t call photography “art”. Photography has physical laws, that do indeed produce a new type of picture, or visual representation of reality.

4. Create a contrast between light and shadow to improve your artistic vision

“The organization of light and shadow effects produce a new enrichment of vision.”

Find and create more contrast in your photos, to enrich your photographic vision.

5. Photography as self-expression

“In photography we must learn to seek, not the ‘picture,’ not the aesthetic of tradition, but the ideal instrument of expression, the self-sufficient vehicle for education.”

The purpose of art and photography as self-expression, not aesthetics for the sake of aesthetics.

Ignore tradition. Rather, seek to express yourself, and creative soul.

6. Photographer as the manipulator of light

“The photographer is a manipulator of light; photography is a manipulation of light.”

To be a photographer: to draw or paint with light.

Photos cannot be made without light. But how do you manipulate light?

Assignment 1: Shoot with a flash, and control the light.

Assignment 2: Also play with exposure-compensation. Make photos -1, -2 exposure compensation, and +1 and +2. Don’t try to faithfully capture “reality” as you see it. Rather, make something other-worldly and surreal with your light.

7. EXPERIMENT IN PHOTOGRAPHY; don’t be a slave to the past.

“The enemy of photography is the convention, the fixed rules of ‘how to do.’ The salvation of photography comes from the experiment.”

Screw the “rules” of photography. Find inspiration from the masters of photography, but seek to always EXPERIMENT and push the genre of photography and art forward.

Takeaway point: Ignore photographers who tell you strict “rules” to follow.


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“He without a past has no future.”

Start here:

  1. Why Study the Masters of Photography?
  2. Great Female Master Photographers
  3. Cheat Sheet of the Masters of Photography
  4. 100 Lessons From the Masters of Street Photography
  5. Beginner’s Guide to the Masters of Street Photography
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The Masters of Photography

Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos
Prague, 1968. Josef Koudelka / Magnum Photos

Classics never die: