Helen Levitt

Topics: Photography, Camera, New York City Pages: 2 (789 words) Published: April 24, 2012
Helen Levitt was born on August 31, 1913 and lived a successful and long life. In fact, she didn’t pass until March 29, 2009. Levitt was an American photographer who was particularly prominent for "street photography" around New York City. She was known as a common “street shooter.” Levitt grew up in Brooklyn, where she later dropped out of high school, and taught herself photography while working for a commercial photographer. While teaching classes in art to children in 1937, Levitt became fascinated with the chalk drawings that the New York City children had been drawing in the street. She purchased a Leica camera and began to photograph the city. Helen Levitt’s photographs were not meant to tell a story. She took pictures in poor neighborhoods because the people in the street were fully sociable and visually interesting. Levitt's photos did not consist of bizarre events. Most of them show the games and excitement of children, the everyday conversations of the working class, and the observant waiting of elders. What is extraordinary about the photographs is that these events that were being captured, were usual doings of life, that were happening everywhere around the world, just maybe with minor differences. Levitt found early success. In July 1939, the new photography section of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City included Levitt's work in its initial exhibition. In Helen Levitt’s most well known picture, three suitably dressed children get ready to go trick-or-treating on Halloween in 1939. These children are standing on a stoop outside their house and are excited about the holiday. The little girl on the top step is putting on her mask, the boy near her has his mask in place and is taking a graceful step down, while another boy, who is also masked, lounges on a lower step, waiting for the upcoming fun. Another of her photos is of four young girls, who have their attention on passing bubbles in 1940. These girls seem to be intrigued by...
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