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The Crosswalk Attendant


Stevejack

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Marie-Anne is a crosswalk attendant. For the past eight years, every morning and afternoon in driving rain or scorching sun, she stands at the side of the road outside the local school and stops traffic to allow the kids to safely cross. She counts her rosary beads as she waits for the children, a small ritual to ensure a safe crossing. 

I have a whole series of these both with her uniform and without, but unfortunately the M11 Monochrom froze on me after less than a dozen shots so I had to use a different camera for the majority of the session 🤨

This is the M11M + 50mm APO.

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The image quality is excellent, as it should be with that great combination of camera and lens (bummer about the camera freezing up), and I very much like the background and lighting....but, I have to be honest. To me, her expression looks like she's just seen a ghost.

I guess I'm the only one who sees it that way because all the other comments are extremely positive. Do you by any chance have others where her expression is perhaps more relaxed? 

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7 hours ago, fotografr said:

The image quality is excellent, as it should be with that great combination of camera and lens (bummer about the camera freezing up), and I very much like the background and lighting....but, I have to be honest. To me, her expression looks like she's just seen a ghost.

I guess I'm the only one who sees it that way because all the other comments are extremely positive. Do you by any chance have others where her expression is perhaps more relaxed? 

I do like the portrait and expression, but I can also imagine her not liking the image.

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8 hours ago, fotografr said:

The image quality is excellent, as it should be with that great combination of camera and lens (bummer about the camera freezing up), and I very much like the background and lighting....but, I have to be honest. To me, her expression looks like she's just seen a ghost.

I guess I'm the only one who sees it that way because all the other comments are extremely positive. Do you by any chance have others where her expression is perhaps more relaxed? 

I think you're spot on - and these kinds of expressions are what interest me the most about a subject, even though often they aren't particularly flattering. She wanted a photo in her crosswalk uniform, she loves the job and wanted something to remember this period in her life. I took a few shots in her uniform similar to this one;

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After that, we chatted and I photographed while she talked. I like to see what comes out of a candid conversation, often there are some really interesting micro expressions that flash across their face which the subject isn't even aware they are showing, and sometimes just interesting macro expressions (like the ones below) come about as they laugh or recall a particular story. These sorts of expressions can't really be posed, and she likely couldn't repeat the expressions again if she tried, but it's a very raw and honest portrait and people closest to the subjects often find that it captures a part of them that they recognise well.  

 

22 minutes ago, Olaf_ZG said:

I do like the portrait and expression, but I can also imagine her not liking the image.

Yep, these kinds of portraits are pretty raw and I've done projects in the past where the whole concept was to capture micro expressions, as well as some of the larger emotions and expressions that can only be captured during a candid conversation. Sometimes a person can appear extremely angry, or distraught, or afraid, but it's only a micro-expression and if you're watching them real time you barely perceive it. That side of portrait photography really fascinates me, and it's definitely not something every subject is comfortable sitting for.

It's all reminiscent of one of my favourite Avedon quotes; "A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth".

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Just to avoid flooding the thread with non-related images, and if anyone is interested in what I mean by micro expressions in a portrait, here are some examples taken during a ~40 minute conversation. If you scroll to the side you'll see a variety of expressions; sadness, anger, disgust, happiness... all coming up within that window of conversation.  At no time was the mood or conversation anything less than jovial so it's definitely a thrill when I download the shots and see what I captured.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CpFpPqOPKpN/?img_index=1

 

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The explanation completely changes my perception of the portrait because I now see what you were after. Previously I didn't. I was a bit concerned that my comment would piss you off, but your response was spot on. By the way, I love the shot of her in her uniform and imagine she also does.

Cheers, Brent

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15 hours ago, fotografr said:

The explanation completely changes my perception of the portrait because I now see what you were after. Previously I didn't. I was a bit concerned that my comment would piss you off, but your response was spot on. By the way, I love the shot of her in her uniform and imagine she also does.

Cheers, Brent

No not at all, I always appreciate feedback of any kind - it's really good to know how an image is perceived as it stands, especially portraits. Thanks for the comments 👍

13 hours ago, Olaf_ZG said:

@Stevejack thanks for the story behind, and the link. Great work.

Thank you, much appreciated. 

 

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