He will be remembered as an urbanist historian, a genuine romanticist, a lover of Paris, a Balzac of the camera, from whose work we can weave a large tapestry of French civilization.
— Berenice Abbott
Have you ever heard of the prolific photographer Eugène Atget? It would makes sense that you have not - he wasn't particularly well known in his own time, either. Despite his relative obscurity, he is considered by some to be a founding father of modern photography.
Atget was a pioneer of documentary photography in the late 1800s. He spent 30 years of his life systematically photographing "Old Paris" - the historic parts of the city that were threatened by Haussmann's grand plans to modernize the French capital. He never considered his work to be art, however, and he never left anything like an artist's statement. For Atget, this was a work of documentation - of capturing images of his city before it disappeared.
Despite this decidedly un-artistic intention, the photographs he creat...