Robert Frank, Elevator — Miami Beach

Robert Frank’s “Elevator — Miami Beach, 1955” — Jona Frank for #PhotosWeLove

The photograph is off-kilter. The elevator girl is framed between two blurred figures. On the right is a dark, almost silhouetted image of a man and on the left, exiting the elevator, is a woman of certain stature wearing what looks to be a short, white fur. Our elevator girl stands between the two, looking off, in her elevator uniform. She waits: for the man and woman to leave, for the next ride, for her to join the others in their purposeful march onward. But, her posture suggests it is not her time yet. Before she moves on she has to go up and down.

She is stuck in that box, so she will look off, create her own dream and one day she will move on. When I was younger I took a series of formative road trips. I felt a freedom I never knew. I carried The Americans with me. Frank accompanied me in in the car, in the diners, in the hotels. I imagined elevator girl traveling with me. I imagined rescuing her. Liberating her.

Sometimes when I get stuck, hit a creative block, can’t get started, I think of her. There is a line in On The Road that unintentionally describes her perfectly. Kerouac writes:

“I wanted to go west and here I’ve been all day and into the night going up and down, north and south, like something that can’t get started.”

Some photographs stick to you, they follow you and become part of your day-to-day. You fall in love with them and see them without seeing them. She makes me think about how far I have come. She makes me think about a time when I was so stuck I just watched time drift past not knowing how or when I would join the accomplished and directed.

I like to think she is not lost in the photo. Instead she is caught-up in a wide-eyed reverie.

(This piece was written by Jona Frank via Fall Line Press for Photos We Love, a new publication from Atlanta Celebrates Photography, which welcomes and encourages you to explore how, why, and what we love about photographs, one picture at a time.)

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