Floyd and Lucille Burroughs, Hale County Alabama 1936
William Fields, Hale County, Alabama, 1936
In this photo there is a young boy sitting on the edge of a bed. He appears to be dirty, and his hair appears to be greasy. The bed is a old worn iron rod bed, with large strings and a thin matress. The bed is set up against the wooden wall and the assumed father is sitting on the edge of the bed out of frame. The boy has large emploring eyes, that are soft and peaceful. Yet this could be a sign of malnutrition. This idea is reinforced be the scrawny figure of the man sitting on the edge of the bed, which we can assume has a connection with the boy. This is likely that there is not much money to be able to buy sufficient food as the time period this photo is taken in is between the two wars, where there was never enough food. The boy appears young due to his small frame, but his face appears old and wise somehow, and this could be evident through the hardships that he has already had to live through as a young boy. Evans has left the large shoes under the bed, that are clearly not the young boys but it could be symbol of being weak and small in comparison to the shoes. The rough style of clothes and the dirt is something we would expect from people that are working with the land, and therefore looking at it i can imagine that the boy lives on a farm. Back then we know that farmers were richer than the ordinary so then i would assume that the child was the son of a farm hand.
This photo easily seen by the lines that i have sketched, has been made with the rule of thirds in mind. The thirds go down the image using the horizontal beams of the bed to frame the boy. It also shows how the boy is framed by the thin metal rods of the bed which we can know see shows how the boy is slightly off center, leaving room for the man to come into the image. Naturally our eye leans in towards the boy because of the way he has been framed, but our eye soon drops and sees the shoes that are lying underneath the bed. The depth of field in the photograph is strong, making the young boy the focus and then the background is sightly blurred. However as the man is sitting between the boy and the wall he is not as blurred and still in enough focus that we know and appreciate that he is an important art of the image. The camera angle is quite wonky, yet it make the image more interesting. It makes the photograph more rustic and we feel as if we are getting a quick glimpse or a blink of an eye into someone else's life. The black and white colour suit the photo and means that we can focus on the subject matter and not be distracted by bright colours that can sometimes distract us when looking at other photos, although there is no way that this photo could have been taken with colour as it is before the digital cameras were popular. I cant imagine things being cropped out of the photo as it feels to much like a natural glimpse into their lives. However, when initially taken the photo may have uncovered the mans identity and Evans may have cut it out to make the photo more focused on the boy. I like not being able to see the mans face as it creates a aspect of the photo that the viewer will always want to see. This leaves room to interpret the image for themselves which i think is important when looking at an image.
I believe that the image was taken on a medium format. Mainly because of the era the photo was taken in, i know it would be difficult to create photos that were clear and sharp as the ones we have now. Also as the image is quite confronting, you wouldn't want it to be very large otherwise it would make the viewer feel overwhelmed. I can presume that flash lighting was used as it seems there is quite a white sheen on the boys face and darker in the background. But then i realise that it must have been quite expensive to use a flash in the 1930's and i cant get my head around how they would do so in an intimate setting. But looking closely at the photo, we can see a rectangular shadow cast on the floor, which has also lit the boys face. Therefore it must be natural lighting that was used to create the photo, from a window opposite the boy. It would have either been the beginning of the day pf near the end, depending on the direction of the window, which would be able to cast a long shadow into the room like that. The shutter and the movement of the photo seem to be quite still, yet as the digital camera had not been invented it does look quite foggy. I can imagine that the photo looks like someone has just ran into the room and quickly taken the photo purely from the angle, but i can imagine that Evans would have planned this image well before he took it. The film used would have been analouge and then printed with the darkroom method, which may still have been carted round after Evans. To understand the full story there needs to be a series of images. I know that there are more images from this day and by piecing them together i felt like i knew more. But as said before the purpose of a photograph is to let the viewer interpret what they see, and Evan has done this.
I feel like the photographer does not know the boy on a personal level and does as little as he can to interact himself with his subject matter, however he knows how to manipulate this, as the boy interacts well with the camera, and he has made a connection with the viewer. I dont know what Evans was trying to achieve by producing this photo, maybe he wanted to make art or maybe he wanted to see all sides of life. I dont really feel like Evans worried about his work, but cared more about what looked nice and what people would appreciate. He did want people to be able to see the evolution of time and therefore we could call him a documentarian and a revolutionary. He most probably published this work because it showed a simple version of life, one that had most probably been forgotten by some in the latter decade.
Evans was one of a kind, being able to see things that would be in fashion before they were. He knew what would move people because it moved himself, and i think that is very important throughout photography. If you dont enjoy the photos that you are taking why would anyone else? This was shown when he went to his own agenda when taking photos under the direction of Roy Stryker. The depression and the movement of people had inspired Evans and he knew this would make shocking and compelling photos. Real life is always confronting and can make an impact on anyone, no matter what race or age. His work did go on to influence artists such as, Helen Levitt and Robert Frank.