Exploring Design

"Lopez family in front of kiva fireplace, Trampas, New Mexico 1943"

Questions: Where is the photographer in relation to the subject of the photograph (close up, far away)? Who is in the photograph and what is left outside the frame? Where is the source of light in this picture? How do these factors affect the feel of the photograph?

What to Look For: Photographers use many different techniques when creating a photograph: where they stand (their point of view), what lighting they use, the way they frame the subject of the photograph and any cropping they do. All of these factors influence the nature and design of the final image. Imagine what this room must have been like without Collier’s light in the upper left corner. Notice how he seems to be taking the photograph from the same eye level as the seated subjects.

Exploring Circumstances

"John Russe family having dinner, Provincetown, Massachusetts 1942"

Questions: Do you think this photo is a “candid” shot or was it staged by the photographer? How can you tell the difference?

What to Look For: At first glance, one might assume that this photo was taken candidly, without planning. But looking more carefully, there are clues that provide evidence that the image was more staged – the lighting, the surroundings the gestures of people in the photograph, Consider what this scene might have looked like if it was a candid shot. Observe the lighting, the surroundings and the gestures of people in the photograph. Consider what this scene might have looked like if it was a candid shot.

Exploring Content

"Leonard Gagnon’s daughters picking beans on the family farm, Fort Kent, Aroostook County, Maine 1942"

Questions: Why do you think this photograph was taken? What message do you think the photographer is trying to communicate? What do you see in the photograph that makes you say that?

What to Look For: Look at the way the people in the photograph are relating to each other and the setting in which they are working. Remember that Collier shot this photograph during World War II, when the government was encouraging people to grow their own food in order to be more self-sufficient.