what do you see? / 26 July, 2005 [click for previous image: "men make history ..." #2]
what do you see? / 26 July, 2005 [click for next image: company fierce #1]
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Title • what do you see?

Patriarchal oppression?
Lack of Opportunity?
A tired mother?
A close relationship?
Poor skin?
An anxious child?
A statement about class?

Maybe ... maybe not ... maybe something else entirely.

After taking this shot1 I showed her the preview and she said she didn't like her expression. I'd taken it while John was photographing her partner and she didn't realise, until the second she glanced up, that I was about to take a shot. So, I took another one:


What do you see now?

1 (which, incidentally, is of the partner of the guy from my previous two shots – at least I'm assuming that was their relationship).

Update: I'm adding an update to this image (there are 16 comments as I write) as it seems that my intentions weren't particularly clear, and I'm not sure they'll be any clearer after this, but there are a couple of things I want to add.

My own view of this woman, her partner, and her child is that they were good people, but my impression was also that their lives were hard. And we've already discussed her partner over the previous couple of days, both here and on John's site, so I wanted to talk about her today.

I think the problem though is that our fleeting impressions of people are difficult to articulate, which is part of the reason I put up both shots. This shot shows her tiredness and her child's suspicions. The colour version shows some of the same things but also captures her relationship with her son and her seemingly good spirits.

I guess that what I'm trying to say, contrary to some of the comments below, is that this isn't about disrespect, or leading the viewer into a particular train of thought, but is rather about what photographs can and cannot say, and in this particular instance it's about me thinking about my own perceptions and how to represent them.

So, does that clarify anything? I suspect not.

4.26pm on 23/7/05

Canon 20D

EF 70-200 f/4L USM

135mm (216mm equiv.)



aperture priority

-1/3 (-2/3 FEC)





C1 Pro


focal length
shutter speed
shooting mode
exposure bias
metering mode
image quality
RAW converter

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