Monday, May 14, 2012

A "Bullet" Image

The Sartorialist

One of my favorite photographers, hands down, is Scott Schuman of "The Sartorialist." I have been a loyal follower of the blog for a few years now, and I must say, Mr. Schuman is going in a very refreshing direction with his latest photographs.

Typically, when I think of a Scott Schuman photograph, I think of good composition and good coloring, but more than that, I think of his talent of being able to capture people in a way that truly suggests something about who they are as a person, even when his subjects are in a stationary pose.

That same sense of emotional photography has been taken into his latest posts, but perhaps a little modified: Schuman, in my opinion, is now focusing on social commentary as well as person-to-person commmentary. The above picture of the girl on the bike is an extremely emotional picture for me. To me, just like all of Schuman's photographs before her, he has captured the full person in one shot; she is strong, no doubt. This is predominantly shown in the bottom half of her, the determined flash of orange, accompanied by the sturdy and practical lines of her shoes. The fine leather belt. All components that, to me, speak of an immensely confident woman.

But then the top half of her, a contadiction. She is all fragility and vulnerability on the top, her back exposed, the color of her shirt nearly the same color as her alabaster skin, almost giving the illusion of nakedness if it were not for the two delicate straps crossing her gracefully fit shoulders.

And then there is her leg. Gold, like a king's crown and, in my opinion, a lovely symbol of her own personal power.

This woman is truly fascinating, and yet we have probably never seen her in any other form of media but this one. The blog's comment forum is bursting with remarks on how, dispite her prosthetic leg, which is a blatant imperfection in a society that glorifies absolute perfection, this woman is so beautiful, so sexy.  I whole-heartedly agree with all of those comments. To me, the emotional poignancy of the implied story behind her leg makes this photograph more beautiful, more real, than many of the other, more sensationalized images of beauty I see in the media today. By putting this lovely girl out into the world through this tasteful photograph, especially through a fashion blog, Schuman has praised another form of beauty that sometimes gets a bit forgotten in our prefection-hungery media: the beauty that comes with an implied story of strength, recovery, and confidence. People are not born wholely beautiful; they are made wholely beautiful by their own strengths and weaknesses, and for me, that is what this girl represents.

Another image that caught my attention the other day was this one:

The Sartorialist

Yes, that is a beautiful, fashion-conscience girl standing next to a man who is riffling through a garbage can, probably for his next meal. This image holds so many thoughts for me. So many. I could talk about so many things regarding this photograph, and I might in later posts. But for now, as I gather my many thoughts, all I can do now is applaud Mr. Schuman for his great sense of empathy in his recent works. He is a brave man to shoot such an image that is so loaded with societal implications. It's what I like to call a "bullet image" because it hits you in the gut when you see it. The picture of the girl riding the bike is also a bullet image. And quite frankly, I hope to see more images of this nature trickling through the media.


  1. Comment testing! :D Let's see if I can leave a comment yet!

  2. YAY! :D Comments work now! Okay. Now I can leave a proper comment.

    I think the photograph with the old man rifling through the garbage next to the gorgeous blond girl is a really powerful picture...and definitely a commentary on the difference between social classes and priorities. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and to me, this picture is lamenting the class difference. They stand yet next to each other, but act completely unaware of each other's presence.

    I really like the picture of the girl with the prosthetic leg. You're right; it really is a bullet image. It would not be quite so unique without that edge to it. Even the color scheme is powerful; orange and golds, warm colors of strength and prosperity. I wonder why the photographer decided to shoot her from behind than in front? Hmmm...maybe it's symbolic of how she's overcome her doubts and regrets over her leg and that she's leaving them behind. And now she's riding off into the future, bright and determined. It makes you wonder about her story...