Thursday, May 31, 2012

OWI Photo

From the Office of War Information, a portrait.

This is some great stuff here. He's not really looking at us, so we're more immediately aware of the few props and bits of context. His hat is pushed back on his head, is that a style, or did he do that for the photograph? The hat dates the photograph, or at least the subject's sense of style. His shirt suggests a worker, and not a contemporary one.

What's that in the background? Some sort of crane? This could be a dockyard or something, or possibly a mine. I happen to know it's a shipyard, so the crane speaks of things nautical to me, but that might be entirely about foreknowledge.

Positioning the crane right there in the empty space over his shoulder was a stroke of compositional genius, by the way.

The face is excellent. Wrinkled and worn, big droopy nose. He's looking, somewhere, is he thoughtful? Spacing out waiting for the photographer? You can read a lot into his eyes, I think.

Bethlehem-Fairfield shipyards, Baltimore, Maryland. A shipyard worker. Arthur S. Siegel. May, 1943.

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