Monday, May 31, 2010
SNAPSHOTS OF FACES by Robert E. Jackson
Snapshots of faces are seductive as well timeless and universal in what they impart to the viewer. And if you don’t know the person, you are not associating some flaw in their physical or emotional makeup with seeing their likeness in a photo. You are not remembering some insult, or thinking about a bad time you had with the person. Such distance enables you to simply gaze into the person’s eyes, marvel at the attractiveness of a gentleman’s features, or swoon at a woman’s beauty.
And these are not portraits as taken by a professional photographer, but rather photos clicked by friends and family. Therefore there is often an ease and naturalness in the photo subject that you don’t see in regular portrait photography. And there is often little care taken in lighting effects and such. This is because the photographer knows the person whose photo they are shooting and isn’t generally concerned about the technical aspects of getting the portrait perfect. The photo’s general purpose is mainly to record a funny or poignant event within the fabric of a friendship or to establish a kinship with the individual being photographed. It is often a moment when the subject and photographer are engaged in some flirtation or bittersweet sadness related to an impending separation, and as such these images have a strange power to elicit a memory of love, of infatuation, of loss.
For us, they evoke something even deeper: a feeling of shared humanity, a sense that we “know” these people. The impersonal gaze at the beauty of a face is an enduring fascination.