Friday, May 6

Tell Me A Story

A face ignites its own explanation: Which is a dramatic narrative.   

Street portraits capture what? Maybe the first words, of the first sentence, of a story. They’re about portents. They’re like keyholes. We plug our imaginations into them to create a dramatic narrative. We expect a face to have more meaning than what it communicates. Its first jolt to our imaginations is processed by our emotions to hunt for collateral messages. We’re programmed to find order that creates meaning. A face ignites its own explanation: A dramatic narrative.

A face sliced from an infinite number of instants at 1/500th of second is like an onion-skin-thin slice of tree. The texture and rings give up some knowledge of age and maybe species, perhaps gender… It gives back something about the tree’s experiences with physics, biology, and even how it leaned against nature’s propositions. But we’d need to see a lot more of the tree to release secrets of its coping mechanisms. It tells of the way life’s winds and weather whirled about its location. What stunting or enabling happened as it aged.

Street portraits trigger speculation. The best of them are purées of nuanced ingredients which fuel then steer the engine of wonder. And art without wonder is merely craft.

Who is this man? What a tantalizing hint he gives us both with his fleeting expression and with the way he’s allowed years to chisel his face. See how he’s chosen to permit and resist life’s propositions?

My take? Here’s a strong, alert guy… A skeptic but not a cynic… He knows there’s enough evidence to make decisions. Learned to cautiously seek it. And learned to learn from it. He doesn't suffer fools gladly. 

About a century ago, the now forgotten journalist and humorist Ambrose Bierce wrote, “Cogito cogito ergo cogito sum… I think I think, therefore I think I am.” And I think that the man I pictured up there, would think carefully about that joke… and smile.

On the last Saturday of April 2016  Lancaster’s YWCA held its annual Race Against Racism right outside of my home. For the past 16 years I’ve hunted among the many hundreds of runners and spectators who participate for these storybook faces. This year I gathered them through my Canon 7D’s EFS 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens, then tried to decipher their stories. 


Cedric Canard said...

Good post Ted and wonderful image. I very much like portrait photography for the very reason you state. A good portrait can truly ignite the imagination and those stories are rarely disappointing.

Ted said...

As you'll see in the oncoming series, the Lancaster YWCA's annual April Saturday morning Race Against Racism attracts hundreds of runners and families to their registration tables on the street outside my home. How nice of them to bring the ducks into my barrel, huh? I pluck potential stories as quickly as I can point, compose, and shoot. Each year there are hundreds of images on my disc... And this guy, like dozens of others, popped out of the Adobe Bridge array.

I feel like the squirrel who'd packed away too many nuts for later. Glad that this image grabbed your attention. Thanks Cedric. But, as you'll see with my next post... All face don't invite our imaginations in as easily as this man's.