TALKING IMAGES 25 – AN IMAGE THAT BLOWS ME AWAY
February 2, 2017 6 Comments
A key objective of FATman Photos, during its nearly six years of life, has been diversity of content. By which I mean that I have always tried to present images with varying subject matter, genre and technique, as well as text to match in varying themes and styles – truth to tell, I enjoy the writing almost as much as I enjoy creating the images. So, in further pursuit of these aims …
Sometime back, I used to subscribe to Black+White Photography magazine. I have a great affinity for black and white images (and especially those that stray away from straight representations of reality minus its colours), and I found B+W to be somewhere between a photographic magazine and a publication on the arts, a combination that I liked very much.
At home here now, I’m clearing out some back issues of B+W, going through them to see if there are any pages worth keeping, and I came upon – and was instantly once again electrified by – this cover image. It is by the haute couture fashion photographer Cathleen Naundorf, and B+W gives the title as: No title – Dior, Atelier d’Artiste – Cautaincourt, Paris, 2007.
The situation is very simple – ever since I first laid eyes on this picture it has both entranced and electrified me. What do I like about it? Well, the black and white presentation for a start, and the very simple lighting, which is coming in from the left.
Then the dress is of course ornate, with high relief embroidery, embossing – what do I know about descriptions of female attire??? And then there are those big, big, rectangular lapels, which introduce a dischordant element of angularity.
And then we start to get to the real nitty gritty. First, that wonderful, big and simply circular hat, and the fact that it is covering her eyes, and so imbuing the image with a very important degree of anonymity – so that this is not a portrait of an individual, but rather a piece of art, a composition, an ideal perhaps. And while talking about the hat and the semi-obscured face, what we are allowed to see of this face is powerfully lit on the left – right up there with the brightest tones in the picture – while the other side of the face is in deep shadow. To me, this is almost not a face, but almost a rounded connection hanging down below that striking hat, which serves to connect that hat with the rest of her body.
And lastly the real cruncher, the pose. Had her arms been down at her sides, this would have been a far less dynamic image, a far more serious image – one perhaps redolent of sorrow or even penance. But the attitude of her arms and hands (those splayed fingers!) introduces a dynamic that for me changes everything, that makes me just love and wonder at this image in a way that I do with very, very few other images, including my own. Those arms introduce a sense of style and also of great panache – here are flamboyance, self-assurance and also great vivacity. The woman may be anonymous, but she is leaving us in no doubt as to the intensity of the style and feminity that she embodies and so forcefully conveys.