Wednesday, October 5, 2011

visual obsessions: silhouettes

A couple of years ago I mentioned to my mother-in-law that I had managed to put together Christmas cards (an every-other-year achievement at best these days), and had even included a picture.

"That's fantastic," she said. "And can we actually see your faces in the picture?"


Until that point I was well aware of my personal aversion to family photos of a forward-facing and stationary fashion. Maybe because we don't stage all that well, given our current head count and energy levels, and maybe because I'm just plain impatient, but I gave up on trying to get everyone looking (and heaven forbid, looking pleasantly) in the same direction a long time ago. And truth be told, I really love the effect. The pictures feel alive to me, as if a taste of the daily motion of our lives is captured right along with the people.

But I was not entirely aware that I have a tendency to skip faces altogether. I don't really have a good explanation for this one. I certainly like the faces of the people I photograph -- in fact I am almighty prejudiced when it comes to the exceptional beauty of my girls and the rugged handsomeness of my boys. But flipping through the photo logs, there is no doubt that I tend to go after motion that avoids direct eye contact.

One result of this tendency has been a slew of silhouette pictures. There is just so much going on where there seems to be so little going on; what these pictures leave unseen is even more potent to me than what they show. And maybe in the end that is the draw of the silhouettes, of the away turned faces, the mystery and possibility of all that is left unseen.

1 comment:

  1. amazing. and much better than a canned portrait.

    (i always love your christmas cards, and wish mine were just like them)