The Manipulation Of Photographic Images Discussed In "The Tradition: Fact And Fiction" By Robert Coles

899 words - 4 pages

In his essay "The Tradition: Fact and Fiction" Robert Coles discussed the works of two photographers, Jane Lange and Walker Evans, examining the process of producing their pictures and the artistic decisions they made, the meaning they wanted to convey and the history of their photographs.Coles pitches on two of Lange's famous photographs. The first, the image of the "migrant mother," depicts a poor woman and her two children, dressed in rags and holding tight. The mother has a tired and apprehensive look on her once beautiful face and the children have hidden their faces behind her shoulders. But to understand better what the author of the picture wanted to say with it, Coles also views the other versions on this topic that Lange rejected. We see a photograph of the tent where the "migrant" family lives, which gives a thorough picture of their conditions of life - no space, no furniture, no hygiene. On another picture we observe the mother breastfeeding her baby with the same look of exhaustion and resignation. We also see some of the environment of extreme poverty in which she lives. On a third photograph the woman is with the baby and another of her children in the same setting. If Lange had used it instead of the chosen picture, the audience would have been more aware of the social belonging of the woman and the atmosphere in which she spends her days. Coles says that Lange made her choice about which picture to use guided by her desire to separate the image of the mother from its surroundings, so that the viewers could concentrate on her face, on its expression and the feeling of strained, cheerless thoughtfulness it conveys. Isolated from the atmosphere in which she lives, the images can represent not only the "migrant" family, but also, for example, the victims of an earthquake, worried about their relatives, or just people who just received some heartbreaking news. We just see their tragedy without knowing the reason for it.In "Ditched, Stalled and Stranded," the second photograph of Lange, the viewer beholds a driver on the steering wheel of a car, facing the camera but not directly looking at it. Our attention is drawn to his apprehensive, empty, overworked look. But Coles also shows the whole picture from which this image was cropped. The man is in the center again, but we also see his wife sitting next to him, who doesn't have this worn out, nervous expression. Next to her lighter coat his clothes does not look so shabby, and his face seems milder and not so anxious. It even...

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