Archive for the The Prado Category

The History of Photography Part Four or The Blue Jacket with the Red Stripe.

Posted in Architecture, Corcoran School of Art, Madrid, Photography, Spain, The Prado, Uncategorized on March 13, 2012 by smpiv

The funny thing about blogging is that I’ve written far more blogs in my head in anticipation of writing a blog than I have actually written.

I’ve started many and they sit in my blog file awaiting an inspiration that will finish them or that finishes them off.

Many I’ve started thinking I’m onto something interesting only to have them die a paragraph to five hundred words later.  Some of my best—to my way of thinking—just come out as fingers hit keys.  Some I’ve posted despite knowing there are some rough patches and transitions within them, but the overall nugget is good.

The same thing happens when I take pictures.

I’ve been at photography, now, a long time and I still, rarely, know when I’ve gotten a good shot.  Quite often I’ll make the discovery during the editing process.  For that reason I have saved every digital capture I’ve made—over 100,000 at this point.

Like any photographer worth their salt, my best shots are surrounded by cast offs.  The wonder of a truly

A great image within anyone’s pantheon is a rare and wonderful thing.

And it’s even rarer when a number of shots come out in the same shoot.

I am now going to put my neck out there and look over a few shots I took over the period of a week while Lisa, Min and I were in Madrid a few years ago.  Nearly all are of Min—baby-bore I know—but what I think separates these shots is that they are of a child who is seeing himself for the first time and his world around him.  For that reason they transcend the family snapshot and, obviously, you are welcome to disagree.

The first shot is not one of them, but a grab shot of a person I didn’t recognize as my little boy–the one who talked endlessly to his stuffed rabbit Bun Bun–but a seasoned traveler, not a six year old boy.  A six year old boy who would come in and out of focus over the following week.

Madrid is a city full of graffiti.  And It seemed that unlike many cities that make efforts to clean graffiti it is a city that lets it be.  I’m not sure if this an appreciation for and hopes of fostering another Jean-Michel Basquiat or not, but it was everywhere.

There is something compelling about Min’s slightly blurred figure, his eyes looking past and somewhat startled look that juxtaposes nicely with FEAR.  It has long transcended the moment, because I have long forgotten where we were in the city, but I come back to this shot time and again.

It set the tone for what would come later in the trip and began the thread of a little boy who was widening his world view.

Our hotel was close by this building that was half of a set, the other out of frame leaning in on the other side of the street.  The both of them evidence of the horrors that architects can create with too much leeway.

Min could care less, but within this stare, this giving to a pesky photographer father is as much questioning in that fraction of a second that I could look forward too later.

This is a shot that I like more and more.  Again, the distant stare with the upturned hands and questioning eyes.  Mother is close by, but separated nicely by distance and the knife edge of the building in the background.

Min as a youngster was wise beyond his years and, although, my guess is that he’s thinking about something to do with Thomas the Tank Engine it’s with an intensity that serves him well.

This is a square that I was certain I had visited with my Mother and Brother years before when I was the same age as Min is in this picture.  Come to find out we never went to Madrid.

Again the confident pose of a boy who is certain of himself and baring that that his father would take care of him.

I love the layering in this shot—the ill defined man in the blue t, the man to the right glancing back and the pack of three women.  Min sits on top of it all with the same uncertain look he had in FEAR.  He is amongst these people, but not quite ready to join in.

Earlier as we set out for the Prado we arrived at the top of the escalator from the subway.  I looked around to get my bearings when Min chirped in.

“Dad, hold it.  Let me get my compass out and I’ll find out which way to go.”

I didn’t mind because I truthfully didn’t quite know where I was, so any input would be nice.

He looked intently at the compass that didn’t even work and confidently said, “It’s this way.”

What the hell, couldn’t be any worse than my plan and damned if we didn’t walk straight to the museum.

In this shot he is again intent on his bearings, holding his hand steady to be sure of his readings.

He’s always had that steadiness.

Without doubt, this is one of the best pictures I’ve ever taken.

Min impatiently spreads his fingers being grasped by his mother.  Lisa’s look is one of absolute love and adoration for this child we have been given the honored task of rearing.

I look at this shot and see everything that I was taught in the Foundations program at the Corcoran so many years before.  The dark to light diagonal, the tension in the hands, the triangulation of the composition—two chairs, the couple in the tiles and Lisa and Min in the foreground.

Both Lisa and Min pack clothes and toys away for Min’s children and I often wonder if the blue jacket with the red stripe we see in just about every picture here is one of the pieces of clothing that has been packed away.  Maybe I should ask.

But, I suppose it doesn’t really matter because I have enshrined it in these images of a resolute six year old that was making his way out of his insular world and into the bigger one.  Fortunately he still has a ways to go but I was there for one of his first forays beyond himself.

God, I wish it would all slow down.

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