Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Nouveau American Gothic

Nouveau American Gothic
American Gothic, circa 2008
View Large On Black

My friends are expecting their first child. I connected with them at a park in northern Minnesota last weekend, in part to do a photo shoot of the 30-week pregnancy. This photo was sort of a snapshot opportunity, and was the most interesting of a handful I took late in the afternoon. The couple is standing in a small patch of pine and birch trees, too small to be considered "woods", but enough to make for dramatic shadows. I knew I had a good image at that moment, but was quite excited about it when I got home and saw it enlarged on the computer. It instantly triggered a feeling of similarity with Grant Wood's iconic painting, American Gothic, albeit with a decidedly contemporary spin. Sort of like American Gothic processed through Lake Wobegon, where "all the women are strong, all the men are good looking, and all the children are above average."

In this case, rather than Wood's pinched, dour looking couple that came to represent depression era steadfastness, I managed to capture a different sort of steadfastness. I see a bold, confident delight on her face; all is well with the world and she is happily pregnant. He is content and solid, the hand on her belly showing his nurturing care. His wedding ring shows on his hand while hers is on a chain around her neck, cautiously removed while her body swells. Her belly has a fresh henna tattoo, obviously applied by someone else, and she wears a sarong draped across her shoulders. It speaks of xenophilia. She embraces aspects of other cultures that appeal to her. He wears a ball cap and a logo tee shirt casually untucked. While there are few clues about their material status, there is no evidence of want or need either. They have enough to be content. The woodsy location and his unshaved face suggests leisure, enjoying time out of doors but not involved in obvious labor.

This is a photo I am very happy with.

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  1. It is a spectacular shot, indeed. Nicely composed, excellent timing... very evocative.

  2. You're right, this photo rocks - all the parts work together to tell a story, in a very aesthetic composition. I was gonna say evocative, but superchunk beat me to it ;)


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