Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Art in Photography: Wednesday's Daily Camera Article on the Caucuses

If you are a student-anywhere from serious to recreational-of history, you know that information can be extracted from documents that their creators had no intention of discussing.  They as well as we can't help it; If you describe a scene at the coffee shop with a particular story or idea in mind, the more detail you provide of the setting and the people, the more that someone else can learn.  Internal evidence can tell you a lot, if you use your eyes and ask questions.

Here is an example from today's Daily Camera on the caucuses last night in Boulder and Longmont.  Look at the paper, and you'll see right away the big photo of some participants in the Democratic caucus at Foothill Elementary.  Let me describe it:  four people lined up at tables,  holding pieces of paper aloft, in their right hands.  Two are smiling, and the other two are certainly not in a bad mood.  They are young-even the man on the right is-all attractive, and engaged.  Notice the point of view of the photographer, which is the same as ours.  She was down low, looking up at the subjects.  Practically Heroic, they are looking up and out, saluting with their votes.   If you are looking at a picture, scale is important because you relate to its size.  Larger images command greater attention and respect, especially if you are looking up at the subject.  In this case as well, the photo was placed above the fold, so that the subjects' heads, shoulders and raised arms are visible and draw in the viewer, or reader.  I think the photographer did well, giving us a modern photo version of something by Norman Rockwell.

The article is actually below the fold, and is illustrated by a photo from the Republican caucus in Longmont.  What a difference!  Compare the scale, point of view, and participants!  Smaller photo, looking down at-and probably on-the subjects, and I don't know if there were any younger people up there, but from this photo you just can't tell.  

The photos were taken by different people, and I don't know if photos are picked carefully, but if I were a lazy historian, I would be making  some conclusions about Boulder and Longmont: 
Boulder = young, attractive, intelligent, happy democrats.  Longmont = old, lonely, obsolete republicans.  At least they weren't fat, eating donuts and smoking!  And I would be making conclusions about the Camera's attitude as well.