Wednesday, September 26, 2012

FSA Photo of the Week

Here it is:

This is a flawed photograph, in many ways, but it is so dense with ideas I post it here today. The FSA file has a lot of good work in it, but almost none of it has this sort of conscious artfulness. Though, quite possibly, this one was shot this way in part because the room was very small, and the camera very large. By shooting into the mirror, the photographer manages to compress the girl at work, together with a great deal of the room, into a single frame.

There are in this photograph some really nice elements, some good balance of lines and objects (I like the roof line upper right, and reflected again in the mirror, as well as the cross in the otherwise blank wall). There's some undesireable busy-ness in the frame, and at the left edge. These are unfortunate flaws, but they speak to the reality of the photograph. This is first and foremost a document, and only secondarily art. But it is art, is it not?

Meeker County, Minnesota. Elaine McCormick, one of the McRaith grandchildren, making the beds in the morning before school bus comes. Shot by John Vachon, February, 1942.

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