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Lewis Carroll & The Unknown Essay

1712 words - 7 pages

It’s very interesting to me to see and compare how children were portrayed back then and now, which is why the photos I chose contain child subjects. The photo that struck my interest the most was “The Beggar Maid” which was taken by Lewis Carroll. It’s a photo of a girl that Lewis would tell stories to about wonderland. Everyone knows the story about Alice in wonderland, and it’s interesting to find out more about the author of this timeless story. The photo itself caused controversy because Lewis was accused of having erotic photos of other children which puts the artfully ripped clothing in this particular photo into question. In fact, it puts everything into question and even changes the entire perspective of the photograph. Even though the photo in the book is hand-colored, I’d rather focus on the picture that is originally taken in black and white since it’s authentic. When looking at the photo my gaze meets with Alice’s and it invokes a feeling of uneasiness and dread, even though her eyebrows are the only thing that gives away any sort of emotion. Her facial expression can also signal impatience, since a photo took almost a minute to take during this time period. The next thing that catches my eye is her all white outfit, and white is a symbol of purity which ties into her being a child with innocence. Since her outfit is torn up it makes me come to conclusion that maybe her purity was “torn up”, but that’s only because I read up on the controversy of Lewis Carroll. Without this context I would simply think of the clothes true intention, and I assume it’s to show a poor girl that’s a beggar. The background plays into the same idea as it is dark and it’s a very strong color contrast as she almost looks illuminated against it, like an angel. The backdrop itself illustrates a complicated texture and pattern of the bricks and plants compared to the simple drapes and paleness of the girl, showing another noticeable contrast. The photo was slightly blurred on the sides which suggests that the camera wasn’t completely focused on the background, and it was cropped to cut off near her foot. This was done to have a central focus on Alice, and you are forced to look up at her. This also applies to the balance and vertical setting of the photo, all done to focus on the subject. The photo doesn’t show much from the making process as it’s very sharp and the only thing noticeable is a faint scratch across her face and minimal white spots on her skin, it’s still a very well-made Albumen print from 1859. When thinking about the time period it was taken in, the photo doesn’t seem appropriate as women weren’t known to show as much skin as they do today. We live in the times of toddlers and tiaras, a society where people think its ok to over-sexualize children and young adults. In the eyes of someone from this century this picture seems very innocent compared to the toddlers parading in swimsuits on the popular TV show. In the eyes of someone from 1859, it’s...

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