By engaging in this process and scrutinizing Arthur Leipzig, I gained a much deeper understanding and appreciation of his work. I became aware of how incredible his photographs were, being that he refused to manipulate or stage them. He had to capture the perfect shot at the right moment, because there were no redoes if his timing or the lighting was off. Having one chance and one chance only to record some of the most iconic images of his time, Leipzig had to be extremely focused on every minor detail. During my own excursion in Ann Arbor, timing proved to be one of my biggest difficulties. With people constantly in motion, it was hard to get the exact shot I desired. For this reason, I admire Leipzig and can respect the amount of time he put into Growing Up in New York.
Not only did I come to gain a much more significant appreciation for Leipzig, but also I learned that his Jewish heritage and experience with growing up in New York was greatly reflected in his photo book. He was able to take average people and common activities and make them artistic and beautiful. Furthermore, he showed that it is important not to take for granted what seems normal or routine. Additionally, his Jewish heritage specially allowed him to show both poverty and prosperity in his masterpiece. Arthur Leipzig knew that the jewish people have experienced both horror and success in their history, and they are crucial to take note of. Neither should be ignored, for they are both cardinal parts of comprehending the world one lives in.
As I went through this process, I was surprised how much my thesis actually changed. I constantly had to go back and edit it to fit my work and my beliefs. Being limited to only a certain amount of mobility and time made me have to adjust my technique multiple times to allow for these restrictions too. Moreover, it became apparent that my thesis would not determine my approach, but rather my approach would dictate the structure of my thesis. For example, rather than exploring Main Street and some of the more residential ares of Ann Arbor as I had hoped, I focused more on the college aspect of the city, the students, and the diverse life of State Street and East Liberty.
Doing this project in the 21st century influenced my interpretation of the 20th century by making it seem more fast paced and technologically advanced than I thought it would be. It amazed me to see that cameras from the mid-twentieth century could photograph images nearly as clear and crisp as many of the cameras today. Apart from this, the change in culture to make privacy a much more relevant issue has demonstrated that in the past, there was very little ownership to one’s own image. Privacy rules basically did not exist, and although there were plenty of people who did not want their pictures to be taken, they could not invoke legal action against such practices.
In reality, this process was much harder than I imagined it would be. It took more time, more effort, and more understanding than what I initially expected, and it was something that required frequent adjustment and tweaking; however, I learned more about Leipzig, his photo book, and my new home town through this exercise than I could have by simply reading about them. For that reason, I believe this project was a success.