On the surface this image looks like a 'sweet' image of two children holding hands taking a walk on what looks like a sunny day, until you understand the background for Eugene Smith taking the picture. This was the first photograph that Smith took after two years of recuperation for injuries sustained while covering World War II. As he writes (collected in Art and Artist):
The children in the photograph are my children, and the day I made this photographic effort, I was not sure I would be capable of ever photographing again.On viewing the image after understanding a little more about how it was taken evokes a variety of emotions and an appreciation of the effort taken to take it but more over an appreciation of the effect that it had on W Eugene Smith and as a parent, the swiftness of the passing of time that how special it was to capture a moment of childhood innocence
It was a good day on which to try. A beautiful, warm spring day to cradle a man’s efforts to reclaim himself. The children…approached a clearing roughly arched by the trees, and I became acutely sensitive to the lines forming the scene and to the bright shower of light pouring into the opening and spilling down the path toward us. Pat saw something in the clearing, he grasped Juanita by the hand and they hurried forward. I dropped a little farther behind the engrossed children, then stopped. Painfully I struggled—almost into panic—with the mechanical iniquities of the camera…I composed the setting as I labored…tried to, and did ignore the sudden violence of pain that real effort shot again and again through my hand, up my arm, and into my spine…swallowing, sucking, gagging, trying to pull the ugly tasting serum inside, into my mouth and throat, and away from dripping down on the camera where it would obscure the clarity of the image…preparing, testing, checking the approaching merger of the subject factors…tensing tighter and tighter the delicate pressure on the shutter release, trying to anticipate in time to defeat my reaction lag…and, as the children stepped in space, to complete my foreseen composition, I pressed the camera release to retain the image of that instant—to hold secure on film the vision of this minute fraction of time floating within eternity.
The reaction was immediate. I knew the photograph, though not perfect, and however unimportant to the world, had been held. Shock waves of feeling released through me, breaking damply out of my flesh…I was aware that mentally, spiritually, even physically, I had taken a first good stride away from those past two wasted and stifled years.
Chim - 'Air Raid Shelter'
I enjoy several elements of this image, the faces of the children, the expression of sadness and confusion on their faces, adults can be seen in the shadows. The image forms part of a collection in the Corcaran Gallery of Arts called 'reflections from the heart: photographs of 'Chims children'. The name Chim (shim) is a compressed french version of Mr Semours original last name of Szymin. His assignment was to shoot and document the war's effect on children, Chim became known for his poignant treatment of people especially children. There is a book out in spring 2013 called 'Chim:Children of war' must look out for that.
This image is a serious one, it feels 'worried', the children standing very close to together in a united and comforting way. Behind the children, the adults stay close, the distance from the camera makes me feel like they need to keep a distance away, to stay together in safety, they seem to move back further as you look at the image, the light cascading a protective crust surrounding. The other side of the light is darkness, unknown for these young faces, faces of the future with the older faces keeping them safe, beyond the darkness is the unknown, the light is safe.
Carlo Bevilacqua - 'Mafia'
This image entitled 'Mafia' was of instant interest to me, I'm not sure if it was the title of the image that caught my eye or the man in the image. I love the way it is lit, with the light catching the side of the sitter highlighting his cheek. The unshaven chin and the rolled cigarette and clothing give the impression of a less fortunate individual until you look into the eye, only one eye is seen, the other in shadow, the expression without looking at the eye could be mistake as a happy state of mind but the glint in the eye leaves me feeling that the sitter, who looks you straight in the eye back is someone confident and unafraid, a look maybe of 'don't mess with me'. The large hand also suggest that this man had worked hard, a large man with a story to tell.
These three images are just a few of the many I've been attracted to since starting The Art of Photography, these were the ones I was instantly attracted to.
I noted an article in the May edition of the British Journal of Photography when Bill Henson talks about night photography, he talks about how photography, compared to art, is evidential. Art can carry the viewer off into a world of fantasy, where as the photograph, being evidential, contradicts other mediums. He says he tries to hold onto both the evidential authority and allow for the universalising of the subject.
Interestingly, Henson doesn't caption his images stating 'who am I to tell people how to read them?' I don't know how you perceive things, it's down to our own individual experiences and ultimately our genetic make-up.
What I find so interesting about all these images is the detail that isn't immediately obvious and is revealed as you view the image, which is the same for most images I know but for the 'charoscuro' type of image there can be a level of mystery, that you are being let into a secret if you look hard enough.
So maybe 'darker', 'charoscuro' type images are my thing? I certainly feel attracted by these type of images looking back over my blog. I was delighted with my night time shoot, this was the first time I'd taken photo's this way and am looking forward to exploring this area more in the future