The picture that no one likes (except me)

    I’m visiting my grandmother up in Connecticut. I
brought along my laptop so that I could show her some pictures of my
cousin (her granddaughter) that I took a little while ago. She didn’t
even recognize her! Keep in mind that up until last year, they had been
living together for years. My grandmother told me that it wa a terrible
picture, in very bad taste. The trouble is, it’s one of my favorites.
Beth (the subject of the picture) calls it “depressing”. If you’re
interested, it’s the one of her face on my website.
    It’s a little troubling to hear that one of your
favorite pictures is in “bad taste.” It is a little “gritty”, and she’s
not smiling. Plus, it’s in B&W. Still, I think it’s an interesting
expression, and I love how her eyes came out. What I think they are
reacting to is the decision to make a picture that was deliberately not
“pretty.” There is also a bit of a confrontational feel to the picture
which removes it from the realm of the snapshot. Beth thinks she looks
pissed off in the picture. I don’t think she does, at least not all the
time. I have trouble taking beautiful pictures seriously (sorry Jenny).
Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy beauty (especially in women), but I don’t
trust in it’s ability to convey much or to hold our interest for very
long. Too often, beauty is used as a substitute for meaning or at least
complexity. I find myself coming back to Beth’s picture again and
again. Of course part of it is that I love her dearly and it’s a
reminder of a great visit. But beyond that, I can’t help but feel that
something else was captured, something that wouldn’t be there if I used
the typical poses with Rembrandt lighting. I think that she’s beautiful,
and I think that it shows through in that picture (check out those
cheekbones and those eyes!) but it doesn’t overwhelm her. The
expression is vague enough that it’s interpretation can change on
different viewings of the picture.
    It isn’t a picture that cements a certain feeling
but one that can bring ones up. I think that is what is provoking those
reactions. Beth was hoping that I’d make her look like a super model
and her grandmother was hoping I’d show an angel. She is neither
although she can be angelic and she is certainly good looking, she is
quite a bit more complicated than that and I think the picture reflects
that. Why people are afraid of complicated pictures of complicated
subjects is beyond me, they’re just going to have to deal with it.

5 replies on “The picture that no one likes (except me)”

Of course they are, or at least a lot of them are. You always seem to be drawn to pretty things like flowers and women for your pictures…:-)


Bad taste?

I don’t see what about that picture could be considered to be “in bad taste.” I find her eyes particularly striking, and her expression has just a slight amount of intensity which I think is quite compelling. It’s certainly *not* a snapshot, and I think that’s an asset. Thumbs up from me; we’re not all of us adverse to complexity.

Re: Bad taste?

Thanks! I feel exactly the same way. You’re right, the intensity removes it from the snapshot realm and I think my grandmother is reacting to that too. I don’t think she’s used to that level of confrontation from pictures of her grandaughter. Thanks for the comment!


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