Paul Strand and other photographers looked for small frame buildings with gabled roofs that had few exterior elements around them—no trees, phone wires, mailboxes, planters and so on. They had a minimalist approach to framing their shots. Back in Strand’s day they didn’t have Photoshop. They had to do the best they could without it, which means they had to look harder to find structures without exterior elements around them.
In Church, 1944, Strand frames a church where the only exterior elements are a few trees in the top right of the frame. The church has a gabled roof two small, rectangular windows and double doors below. The gabled roof is outlined with trim so that it makes a triangle in the at the top of the frame. It’s topped off with the part of the steeple that is square that sits behind the top part of the triangular shaped gable. A small portion of the church is cut off on the right side of the frame.
In the photo to the left, I’ve tweaked an image of a Wisconsin church to look similar to that of Strand’s. I removed a thick telephone wire and some trees to the left of the house. You can see that without any external elements the lines that create different shapes in the photograph are emphasized. There is a triangle that is formed by the roof’s gable, just as there is in Strand’s church photo. Also similar is are the horizontal lines made up from the building’s siding and the rectangles, large and small, that make up the windows and window panes.
This passage is taken from the book, 101 Quick and Easy Ideas Taken from Master Photographers of the Twentieth Century, which I’m currently working on.by