Irving Penn – Small Trades

PhotoBook Journal


Copyright 2009 the estate of Irving Penn, published by the Getty Museum

Small Trades is but one of many projects that was completed by Irving Penn (b. 1917 Plainfield, NJ – d. 2009), and one that actually spanned his photographic career. The photographs were created in the early 1950’s in Paris, London and New York. As a body of work, Penn would return to these negatives to continue his investigation of what a photograph print should look like.

The original photographs were made on 2-1/4 x 2-1/4 roll film (Rolliflex), but usually cropped into a vertical image and printed on gelatin silver enlarging paper. Penn has stated that his studies were primary inspired by Eugene Atget’s petits métiers (small trades), early 1900’s photographic studies of workers in their Paris environments. As has frequently been mentioned, the viewer can also find themselves noticing the similarities to August Sander’s “People…

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