Today I stumbled upon a fellow Bostonian street-photographer. Sometimes we bump to each other near downtown crossing and it is nice to have some chat about photography or whatever. He showed me some prints of very nice shots he did. He grew up in Boston and is of Italian origin. He told me how Boston was back then, with the Irish and the Italian boys fighting each others. It was him who told me about the exhibition of photographs from Jules Aarons at the public library few months ago, a Boston-based street photographer whose body of work spanned from the late 40’s to the 70’s. I went to see that exhibition after he told me about it.
Aarons did a lovely work, especially on Boston’s streets. His work is in the vein of Cartier-Bresson (who was a strong influence) but to me is even closer to Helen Levitt. Actually photographing kids in the street seems to have been one of Aarons’ favorite theme (alas a motif which is likely to be much less documented nowadays), but it is especially his ability to capture body language in a very poetic way that reminds me Levitt. Also his stylistic approach is very ‘classic”, as opposed to e.g. Garry Winogrand. Hence a strong nostalgia vibe in the photographs.
It is quite exciting to look at a body of work done decades ago in the place where you live. Some of the photographs he did can be located very precisely (who said street signs are “distracting objects” ?…) and you can play the game to go back and give it a try.
By the way I found this one that I did recently :
… not being aware that Aarons stood almost at the same place to do this photograph more than 50 years before.
Well… the one from Aarons is way better than mine… Not sure the pole is still there by the way, probably not. I’ll check it out next time…
And by the way my friend who told me about Aarons first could be one of the kid playing in that North-End playground in the Jules Aarons’ photograph…
Jules Aarons was a Boston University physicist who was an internationally known expert in the study of radio-wave propagation. He was also an acclaimed photographer whose work is in the permanent collections of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, New York’s Museum of Modern Art, and Paris’s Bibliotheque Nationale. Aarons was born in 1921 and passed away in 2008.