More than three decades with a camera in his hands and managing one of the strongest firms of the Catalan photography meticulously, Josep Brangulí is a fundamental figure in order to understand the beginning and the unfolding of the photo-journalistic profession, what it meant to be a correspondent and how to make a family-firm run like a press agency, one for which a great majority of the photojournalism of Barcelona supplied images. A strong defender of the fundamental labour rights and the recognition of the signature, he was also the founder of the first professional associations.
The first photos found with the Brangulí signature corresponds to 1902 in the satirical magazine Cu-Cut!, the same year in which he made his début as correspondent for the oldest newspaper, Diario de Barcelona where he published until 1923. Little by little he expanded his collaborations until his career took a leap during the "Tragic Week" in 1909 considering that he started to publish abroad as well as making postcard albums of the images taken in the streets.
The change of the decade supposed the first collaborations with La Vanguardia and a new professional challenge, to be the photographer of La Caixa and the firm Construcciones y Pavimientos S.A., responsible of the majority of the constructions in Barcelona. He quickly expanded the commercial routes of these types of photos towards institutional bodies linked to the Council or the City Council, for who he worked throughout his entire career. In 1911 the newspaper La Tribuna made a radical change, turning itself into the leading graphic newspaper of the city. From the beginning, and during the first year, Brangulí appears as photographer exclusively dedicated to Barcelona.
Once consolidated in the profession and with a stable firm, as of 1914 and onwards he is a reference within the profession due to the fact that he obtains the correspondent of the prestigious Prensa Española S.A., dedicated to editing ABC and Blanco y Negro, with some very favourable conditions of labour that guaranties him a stable income. A part from the informative photos, the firm offered the workers the opportunity of managing the advertising or news photos for a fee in exchange for a commission.
In 1921, he became one of the founders of the Agrupació de Reporters Gràfics de Barcelona, the articles of which were signed at his home. The happy 20es was the decade in which the firm Brangulí had the most intense activity, both with regards to the press and institutional assignments. The enormous volume of work meant that the firm worked as if it was a press agency, buying images from other colleagues, like Josep Badosa, Ramon Claret or Manuel Mato. The detailed documentation of the firm accounts for what days, around what topic and which photographer took them. Nonetheless, when they got published they were always signed by Brangulí.
Conceived of as a family enterprise, from 1928 onwards the patriarch decides that it is the right moment to incorporate his first-born son, Joaquim, who grows professionally during the years of the 2nd Republic, a period in which the family focuses a lot more on the newspapers than the magazines, still carrying out institutional assignments. With the outbreak of the civil war Josep Brangulí covers the rearguard of Barcelona; he reduces his professional activities and initiates his son Xavier into the press photography. Just like other professionals he cooperated with the Comissariat de Propaganda de la Generalitat.
Once the conflict had come to an end, he handed over the corresponding part of the archives of 1936 to the Servicio Nacional de Propaganda just like the rest of the photographers, he enrolled Falange and immediately entered the Registro Oficial de Prensa. He continued in possession of the correspondent at ABC and was able to work comfortably for other newspapers and publications in Barcelona until his death.
La Barcelona d’ahir: el llegat fotogràfic dels Brangulí
D.A. (1996): Cambra fosca 1936-1946: imatges de Catalunya dels fotoperiodistes Brangulí. Lleida: Pagès