Walker Evans (1903
) was one of the greatest documentary
photographers of the 20th century
. Though most famous for his photographs of southern sharecropper
s during the Great Depression
(published in Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
, which he co-authored with James Agee
), he also worked on the staff of Time
magazines and in 1965
became a professor emeritus
at Yale University
His attitude toward documentary photography was much stricter than that of many of his contemporaries (see "Migrant Mother"). He said, "That's where the word 'documentary' holds; you don't touch a thing. You 'manipulate,' if you like, when you frame a picture - one foot one way or one foot another. But you're not sticking anything in."
However, there is ample evidence that he didn't always follow his own rules: Reportedly, while working on Let Us Now Praise Famous Men he set beds at photogenic angles and cleared clutter off tables in order to reveal "the order and beauty that ... lay beneath the surface of their poverty."