Contextual Research | Lartigue

Going back to my one to one with Cemre, she highlighted that it may be a good idea to encompass action into my work in addition to shooting from the perspective of of a child. As a result, I have been researching the work of Lartigue which I find compelling in addition to having similarities with one of my favorate photographers, Rodney Smith. As my reserach furthered I found that much of Lartigue’s work was driven by ‘action’ with composition a secondary factor. Although I consider his black and white actioin work appealing what I really like about it is the combination of action and composition. I feel this is of vital importance to the development of my own project because what I would like to avoid is producing action shots of people playing football in a style that looks like a commercial or journalistic sports photograph. 

Lartigue’s cousin Simone Roussel, Rouzat, 1913.

The image above is particularly interesting as as stated earlier, the photograph is driven by the action of falling from the bike, the subject is placed in the middle of the frame but what I really find interesting about this image is the way that the stone path falls towards the right leading the viewer to assume that the subject was approaching a type of junction. This brings the image to life adding a narrative or even metaphor. Seconds earlier the subject would have been riding the bike approaching a type of crossroad which would require a type of decision to be made. ‘Right or Left’, the outcome of which the subject is evidence, could be a metaphor for making a decision. The image lacking colour does move away from my own approach however the union of action and composition serve as reference points on this occasion.

The image below represents an interest I have had for some years and have tried myself within a wedding photography context. Comparisons with the like of Rodney Smith are present here and what I am interested in is the symmetry of the subjects legs. Clearly creating an action pose of the subject running or possibly jumping.

Lartigue: Lady Playing Tennis
Rodney Smith

The Smith image about echoes the work of Lartigue and one is able to see the similarities in the two images. In the photograph taken by Smith. The action is still driving the photograph in addition to the presence of clear daylight between the subject the ground. The image of the tennis player doesn’t appear constructed as does the photograph taken by Smith which may be another consideration I will need to contend with.

Moving on to the work Lartigue produced in colour, his emphasis shifts towards environmental portraits mainly of women.

Lartigue | Life in Colour

The image above is dominated between the action of the water and the vantage point. The diving white diving board adding a further layer of interest which achieves excellent separation from the deep blue of the water. I find the photograph bordering the glamorous however the relationship between composition, colour, vantage point and ‘action’ achieving a union charged with the poetic.


Smith, R (2020) [Online] Available at: (Accessed 5th July 2020)

The Guardian (2020) ‘Jacques Henri Lartigue: portrait of the photographer as a young man’ (The Guardian) 29th March 2020, Available at: (Accessed 5th July 2020)

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