Long before I moved to Chicago, I fell in love with it through the wartime photographs of Jack Delano, a Ukrainian immigrant who came to work for the federal government in the Farm Security Administration under the direction of economist/photographer Roy Stryker, and later moved to the Office of War Information when the FSA was canned.
Delano did extraordinary things with light, being able to capture the glow of a sunset, a welding iron, a skyline, or the eyes of a worker. His color photographs for the OWI work in the mode of heroic realism—on one level they’re propaganda, but they’re also remarkably composed. His photographs of sand-house workers and boilermakers are lit like Renaissance paintings.
And, I have to admit, the propaganda worked on me. A year in, and I’m still glad to be living within hearing distance of a roundhouse.