The first image I wanted to reflect on is one by Louis Faurer — Elevated subway on Third Avenue, c.1947. The use of light in this photo collage is used to contrast the dark silhouette in the front of the image. This shadow is lighter then the smaller silhouette sitting in the room, perhaps the same man. The use of light in this photo first directs us towards the large outline of the mans body and we end at the smaller and darker lit figure. This type of lighting has a purpose of directing the viewer to focus on an object. We can make assumptions about a story. Maybe this larger silhouette is a foreboding and ominous feeling that lies over this more crisply delineated figure. Perhaps it is fear, depression, or anxiety. Then again, maybe it’s none of those things!
The second image I want to reflect on is also a Faurer — Garage, Park Avenue, NY. This extremely high contrast photo shows three dark black cars and the dynamic highlights on the contours and silver trim on the cars. The use of light in this photo is used to feature the beautiful structure of these old 1940’s cars. If the photo were any more exposed I don’t think it would capture the same feeling expressed here. Again, light is used to draw attention to the elegance of these three cars and nothing else. The use of light is selective but very successful in this shot.
Last is an image by Alec Soth. The photo is of two swans folded out of white towels, facing each other. The negative space in between their beaks and necks makes a heart. These lay on top of a floral bed spread in what looks like a cheap motel room. Light comes through onto these objects in a hazy manner. It gives us the impression that there is a window with blinds part way open. But why only partially? The room feels empty and the use of light tells this story through it’s subtle existence.