August Sander (1876 - 1964) was a German photographer, famed for his incisive
portraits of Germans.
His technique was straitforward: the subject faces the camera and looks into it.
Some of his most interesting pictures are environmental portraits, where the subject is pictured at work or in his house.
This should be contrasted with the practice of shooting against a neutral background or even a set.
His pictures are sharp. In some cases, the features he portrays are quite ugly, but he never used soft focus to hide the subject's blemishes. These portraits are very much in your face, quite differently from Alfred Steiglitz's and Laszlo Moholy-Nagy practice of intentional blurring.
Sander's work has held up very well to the passing of time. In his time, he was persecuted by the Nazis because his pictures were not idealized images of Aryans, but rather faithful renditions of Germans from the Westerwald.
Sander's handling of composition and framing was masterful. This is particularly visible in the picture he took of a notary public and his dog standing in a street; all the lines are under control, and the tall angular figure of the man and his dog contrast with the rounded steps behind them.
Also remarkable is his picture of a cook in his kitchen. The cook is pudgy, bald and he has a moustache: he holds a bowl and he has been "caught" during his work. Again, the cook looks into the camera, and of course in the viewer's eye.
I find August Sander's pictures very interesting technically, and very moving as well; they portray a lost world, an innocent Germany that was already carrying the seeds of its bellic destruction.