Over 60 years ago Robert Frank photographed with an outsider’s eye the Americans as he traveled from coast to coast over a year. The result is the seminal book, The Americans. I highly recommend the book as it put a mirror to the nation at the time, which offended some viewers as the photographs were too edgy for most. Indeed, it was not published in the USA until a year after its publication in France.
About 10 days ago, The New York Times had a long article, a kind of retrospective on Robert Frank, The Man Who Saw America. It is insightful and informative as it is a good read. If you do not subscribe to The New York Times you should still be able to read it as any visitor is given the chance to read a good number of articles before a login is required.
There is much written on The Americans and deservedly so. He influenced many photographers, like Joel Meyerowitz, and his photography defined what was to follow on the footsteps of Frank. Meyerowitz says that he saw Frank working for a magazine assignment and at that moment he decided to become a photographer like Frank quitting his art director position. Traveling with two cameras and a whole bunch of film, Frank created a scalpel-sharp visual analysis in a very new style. Juxtapositions, tilted horizons, sharp angles, social contrasts were all part of and in his visual story. It is a very compelling collection of photographs, a must see and read for any photographer interested in studying his vision as well as his style of photography. While you are at it, you may also look up Walker Evans’ American Photographs which preceded Frank’s work.
Also worth watching is a commentary by Sarah Greenough on The Americans. She has a large volume Looking In which is an expanded view of The Americans.
Addendum July 16, 2015:
The publisher and the lead author of the Bureau of Arts and Culture Magazine, Joshua A. Triliegi brought to my attention an article he published recently. You can read it on his Web site. There is even an audio version; you need to scroll down to find it and make sure the Flash plugin is enabled to hear it.