Monday, February 18, 2008

Found Family 2 at Cromer

Found family 2 atCromer, originally uploaded by lovedaylemon.

I ran across this image on flickr ( part of a collection of fantastic found photos posted by flickr member lovelydaylemon) over the weekend and it had been haunting me a bit ever since.

One first glance, it’s nothing more than a visual documentation of a sweet memory of a sun drenched afternoon spent on the beach. I’m guessing it was probably taken in the mid to late 1930’s or early 1940’s. There is definitely an air of spontaneity to the photo like most fun filled afternoons on the shore. The image is sweet and innocent enough on its own accord.

But in the back of my mind, there was something more to it, something that negated the initial cheeriness of the scene and revealed it in a light a bit more macabre. It wasn’t necessarily from anything in the photo itself, but more so from something it was reminding me of. I just couldn’t get it to come into focus.

So, I started to visually break down the components of the image to see if that would trigger the hidden connection. I do that often when looking at vintage photography to see if there are other aspects to the image which add to its narrative. If you’ve never done that before, you can be surprised at times at what you find.

First, we see two figures – a female adult and a male child. Perhaps they are a mother and child, sister and baby brother, aunt and nephew, or more. That didn’t really help. Her two piece black bathing suit (a bit more revealing than most women’s swim wear of that time) starkly contrasts against the sea and sand, creating somewhat of a yin/yang look and feel. I thought perhaps that may have been it, being that I’ve been in one of my I Ching moods as of late and have spent a great deal of time with the wonderful tool. But, that idea didn’t satisfy either.

I then started to pay attention to their positions and body stances. It looked as if the child may have been running by the woman as she quickly stopped him with her hands to be part of the photo. His little body still shows a bit of forward momentum and he has a funny “where am I supposed to be looking” expression on his face. She is also still showing movement and her face is slightly blurred by the sudden backward movement of her head as she – and that was it. I realized that the image was suddenly connecting to another image in my visual memory banks - a photograph far more famous and much more tragic in nature.

That image would be famed photographer Robert Capa’s renown and controversial photograph entitled “Death of a Loyalist Soldier” from the Spanish Civil War taken in 1936. Capa was an amazing man with an even more amazing life. He died doing what he loved, making photographic art, after stepping on a land mine in Japan in 1954 at the age of 40.

It was the out of focus face with that back swing of the head that made the connection. His was caught on film during the moment that his life was taken away by a bullet, and hers while whisking back her wind tossed bangs on a sunny beach. Frankly, that is very Yin/Ying in and ot itself.

Quite possibly, these photographs may have been taken in the same year, and may even in some weird synchronistic universe, maybe even at the same moment. Now, wouldn't that be just a kick in the head? No pun intended of course.

No comments: