When I visited the Weinstein Gallery, I looked through the entire Louis Faurer collection and then the Alec Soth collection. As I looked at all of Faurer’s photographs, I noticed immediately that he chose not just random subjects on the street, but those who told a visual story and made you want to know more about them. I also noticed his use of light and shadow create dynamic compositions and often act as the subjects themselves.
Three uses of light and shadow stood out to me in the Louis Faurer collection. First was a very dark photo of the rear ends of 3 cars. The background and cars are both black, so the only light in the image is where light reflects off of the cars or their chrome detailing. This creates an ambiguous figure-ground relationship, which causes the areas of light to act as more of a textural or graphic element that leads the viewer’s eye through the piece.
The second image that stood out was an image of men walking underlaid with scenes of the street and signage. You could see the street in the men’s silhouettes as if the photo was taken of a reflection on a window. The men are also warped upward at their waists, similar to a funhouse mirror effect. The high contrast between the light and dark areas combined with the scene inside the silhouettes provide context to the surroundings of the men, and at the same time creating new forms and warping the interplay between the fore and background.
Finally, there was an image of the upper body shadow of someone running and several diagonal lines in front of a side of a brick building, overlaid with a few windows lit from inside with the same silhouette inside a window. The diagonal lines going the same direction as the runner creates a lot of movement through the entire image and the overlapping of different visual layers between light and shadow bring your eye to the fore and background of the photo.
Both photographers visualize their subjects in a way that brings life to them and makes the viewer want to know more about the photographer, the situation, and the person in front of the camera. It’s interesting to see how they both used the scene and visual elements around their subjects to create ingrained context and give more depth to each photo.