Peter Henry EmersonBritish, born Cuba (Sagua la Grande, Cuba, 1856 - 1936, Falmouth, England)
Cutting the Gladdon, from Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads
Emerso's decade-long project Life and Landscape on the Norfolk Broads documented the people and landscape of East Anglia, on England's eastern shore. Interested in the fate of rural ways of life in the face of modernity, Emerson here presents the labor of an unidentified man cutting gladdon, a type of iris.
Emerso's work and writing was at the center of debates among photographers during this time. Instead of maintaining a unified sense of clarity in the image, his photographs featured selective areas of focus, which he believed replicated human vision and conveyed the environmental and atmospheric effects of seeing in the real world. In this way, he believed, his photographs presented a "truer" experience.
This photograph was included in an 1886 volume devoted to Emerso's work in the Norfolk Broads; the publication was printed using the newest photomechanical printing technique, photogravure, making it possible for him to mass-produce his photographs in books and in folios while maintaining the aesthetic and delicate tonal values of platinum prints.