Mar 5 2012: The Furthest Possible Separation Between Photographer And Subject (Date and Location Unknown)
Photographers are invariably fascinated by images of photography itself, with the likes of Martin Parr and Anne Collier building large sections of their work on explorations that reflect the process of documenting and looking as much as the things they’re actually documenting and looking at through their viewfinders. In this image, a beautifully balanced image – almost literally so, as the photographer and his subject act like the compositional equivalents of weights in a traditional set of scales at either edge of the image, with a large empty space, occupied by a desert-like stretch of beach, between them – there’s also an intriguing game of perception being played out. As the standing male figure photographs the seated woman in this bare landscape, we only later notice that our own perspective is not that of the photographer we see, but – of course – of an unseen third figure, with a second camera. That then begins to raise questions: was our viewpoint, this third point in what suddenly becomes a triangle rather than a line, that of someone on this summer day out with the couple we see, or was that photographer intervening from a distance as a kind of voyeur on the scene we’re looking at? Once our own complicity with this third perspective becomes clear, it’s as though something surveillance-like comes into play to counter and unsettle the balance of the superficially intimate picture we thought we were looking at.