Carl Mydan’s war photography is absolutely stunning in composition, style, and subject matter. He photographed some of the major events in our world’s history and made photography crucial in journalism. Personally, I have never heard of him before which surprised me after looking at his work. Reading his obituary and the captions associated with his work, it seems that Mydan was always in the right place at the right time, with material for his photographs happening on the whim of his actions, like boarding the train north on the day of President Kennedy’s assassination and taking the iconic photograph of headlines on the train. Sometimes he even used his standing in the journalism world to gain access to important historical events like the peace agreement to end World War II. However, he never relied solely on his fame and renown, instead pursuing certain photographic event in the name of historical documentation.
In contrast to the Turnley brothers from my gleaning, Mydan lets his pictures speak for his ability and skill and has no need to emphasize it himself. He has no gallery dedicated to pictures of himself with famous people he has encountered. Mydan photographs the horrors of war like Turnley, not to promote a sense of “other” exoticism, but to document history. There’s no added drama to play with viewers emotions. I was struck by the lack of intimacy between Mydan and his subjects although he occupies a direct position within the scene. He is simultaneously an insider in terms of placement but also an outsider in terms of his positionally and involvement. I think Mydan’s photography takes a strong juxtaposition to other war photographers and photojournalists out there today. Mydan wants to document history while photojournalists today believe they have the right to document history.