View Full Version : Discuss a Helen Levitt Photograph
08-07-2006, 08:06 AM
I find this one entertaining and well composed, but I don't feel like I need to scrutinize it looking for either the following of specific 'rules' or their violation - it either 'looks right' or doesn't. This genre of photography, by necessity, relies more on the internalization of these compositional concepts that on calculated exactness. Although it is poorly represented online - what photo isn't? - it still has the appearance of having been well exposed and well printed. I like the simplicity and the directness of it, and the possibility of mystery and an interesting backstory.
08-13-2006, 06:40 AM
I think this is a great photo - if it's difficult to define the photographer's point of view (I'm not saying it is, but the point was raised) what a blessed relief. Keen observation, and documentation is where she's at.
I like because it says something a little serious with a wry sense of humour. Just when you're getting on with something really important some guy just wants a peek at your knickers. I bet it was serious for that little girl, anyway, if she knew what he was up to. I bet she didn't know which one to punch first.
I like it because it shows the tension of childhood relationships, the intensity and maybe even horror of it at times (more what's going on between the girls than the opportunist curiosity of the boy), but without overstating and without sentimentalising or making any kind of adult 'comment'.
The photograph speaks for iteself.
08-13-2006, 06:57 AM
The photographer's point of view, I think, is careful observation. They are full of life. This one in particular, is humorous and frightening all at once. I find this aggressive play between the girls a little disturbing. And the boy peeking...well, more of a gander really, is what makes this so decisive, and striking without banging you over the head with a brick like so many HCB photographs. I find it a masterpiece.
Boy, she really has a pair of eyes for the subtle and not so subtle ways children and people move and play on the street.!
From a sociological perspective, I see a few things going on here. Inner city stresses; lack of parental supervision (they were working and the kids fended for themselves), an assertion of a pecking order with the miscreant boy child trumping the conflict between the two girls.
There is a lot going on here. Even from the perspective of the photographer. Seeing and observing rather than intervening. How much observation versus interaction with the children was there? Were they aware that they were being observed? If they were was there simple indifference? Would this have been tolerated if a different social acquaintance had been present?
Rich with perspective and the moment really is decisive from both photographer and subject POV.