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Likely taken by Job V. Harrison near Rock Lake, N.D. 190?

[Detail] Likely taken by Job V. Harrison near Rock Lake, N.D. 190?

Historical Analysis and Interpretation

Students can learn to analyze and interpret photographs by regarding them as the creative work of specific photographers. Have students read the Pazandak and Hultstrand biographies and consider the following questions.

  • What were each man's interests?
  • What were Pazandak and Hultstrand's reasons for taking photographs and why did they like the medium?
  • What did Pazandak and Hultstrand choose to photograph? What aspects of life did each man choose to leave out of his work?
  • What do the captions suggest about the photographers' attitudes toward their subjects and toward photography? What do they suggest about the purpose of the photographs and their audience?
  • How are the photographers' interests and motives reflected in their photographs?
  • How does this change the way one looks at them?

Students may want to compare Hultstrand and Pazandak's photographs with those of reform photographer, Jacob Riis, or those of the FSA-OWI photographers. How are the interests and goals of these photographers different from those of Pazandak and Hultstrand? How is that reflected in their work? The WPA photographers were largely concerned with social issues of the 1930s and 40s. To what extent are Pazandak and Hultstrand photographers of the pioneer era or frontier community? How much were their interests, not only as photographers, but as people, shaped by their time and location? Has a type of photographer and photograph passed from history with the frontier community?