Can you guess who this is meant to suggest, just by looking at the picture?
Photo by Ahn Jooyoun for Sera Park
You already know this photo – it is the legendary portrait titled “Afghan Girl” that appeared on the cover of National Geographic in 1985 and then went on to become one of the most iconic pictures of all times. No wonder: the resolute gaze of the girl, in such dire circumstances, the unusual color of her eyes are indeed striking. What is also impactful but less consciously recognizable is the color contrast of the saturated green and red that appeal subconsciously. And if you are a photography enthusiast, you also know the name of the photographer, Steve McCurry, popularly famous for shooting the last roll of Kodachrome ever produced, too. He was given that honor by Kodak because that film, noted for its exceptional saturated colors, was his signature film. And you perhaps know that his signature style was striking human figures (most often shot in third-world countries) in traditional environments in saturated colors. Continue reading
My grandfather in 1940. Photograph by Kiro of Smardan
This is a portrait of my grandfather, taken while he was doing his military service in 1940 Bulgaria (not part of the Axis yet). I discovered it last summer while perusing the stack of family photos at my parents’ house.
And it was one of the delights of my summer. I saw, in this picture, something in him I had not known but was so excited to discover it. I saw how he felt in that particular moment of his life and some truths he never told me; things I would’ve discussed with him if only he were around today. This picture gave me back a great piece of my own personal puzzle that I didn’t know existed but am so glad I found.
So, what could I do with this treasure? I plundered it from my parents’ collection without telling them, or my sister. My only justification was that it was just temporary and I would scan it and print it in large format and give them copies. Continue reading
Book cover of Frida Kahlo: Her Photos. The cover image is of Frida at age 20, taken by her father
If perusing someone’s personal library is a way to understand their inner world, browsing the photo archive of one of 20th century’s most important artistic figures is a bonanza for understanding the visual world from which their art came. Surprisingly enough, we didn’t have access privileges to Frida Kahlo’s visual archive until recently. The book Frida Kahlo: Her Photos shows it for the first time. Divided in several sections (“Mother”, “Father”, “Casa Azul”, “The Broken Body”, “Political Action”, etc), it encompasses family pictures, photographs taken of her, by her, given to her. For someone who so carefully crafted her image in so many ways, who made herself into a character of a larger story that is only partially contained in her art, the archive is an indispensable tool for understanding Frida as a work of art herself. Continue reading