Looking at photographs of my mother as a very young child, I came across this image taken when she was 2 or 3 years old. The effect this photograph has on me is incredible. Even if this child were not my mother, I’d be transfixed by what is going on in this picture. The shadows quickly become the subject as they tower over the small child that seems to play or probe the shadows in the dirt of the street. The amount of light on the child is ideal. The light exposing the dirt under the shadow causes you to question how organic the objects blocking the sun might be.
The photographic equipment at the time created a sense of other-place. The focus is akin to a “Lens Baby” effect. The sharp focus plane extends well back to the building and trees, while the outer portion of the image is effected by a vignette of blur. This further strengthens the emotional effect of the image.
I’m so pleased to have had a chance to see this photograph. Not only does this photo document an otherwise lost, private moment experienced by my recently deceased mother, but it also illustrates, at least in my mind, how light and focus can be used outside the normal rules or offerings of current technology.