And speaking of photographing types, a splendid article by Ian Jack from the Spring 2010 issue of Intelligent Life magazine has found its way online. It starts out, "Almost since its invention, photography has had the habit of turning people into symbols by accident...."
The article, which tells in detail the story of one of those often-reproduced, widely known iconic images (although this one is mainly known in the U.K.—I'd never seen it before yesterday) is called "Five Boys: The Story of a Picture."
The longer original version (7,000 words), is at The Economist's moreintelligentlife.com. Lots of people are talking about a condensed version (2,900 words) which appeared in The Guardian yesterday. The condensed version might still be too long for you if you're that pressed for time; I recommend the longer version. Both are good reads.
The fates of the two "toff" boys on the left are particularly poignant. Stereotypes or not, there's no telling from the present what life has in store.
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Original contents copyright 2010 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Peter: "That's a remarkable image, and the linked stories too are fascinating. I'm reminded of related photographs which I was fortunate to see more than thirty years ago, not long after Queen Elizabeth visited an Oxford college.
"I was a student at Oxford at the time, and I had been told that every monarch since Henry VIII had visited the college during their reign. On this occasion it was the turn of Elizabeth II, and of course the college hired professional photographers to record the occasion for posterity. They were briefed on the need to do their job particularly quickly and effectively; the royal party would be present for only a short time, and there would be no opportunities for retaking images.
"One of the photographers took special pains to plan for the occasion, and sought out members of the college staff who could stand in for the royal party in a trial image, so that lighting, exposure, and of course composition, could be determined in advance and refined. The college staff had to be of approximately the same height and build as the people whom they would represent.
"My memory of the trial image is not as clear as I would like it to be, but I recall that a charwoman, with her hair in a scarf and a mop in her hand, stood where the queen would be; a tall member of staff (perhaps a scout, one of the retired gentlemen who looked after undergraduates in the rooms that go off a staircase) represented the Duke of Edinburgh; and so on. The final photograph, taken a few days later, showed the royal retinue standing just where the staff had been.
"I was fortunate to be able to see both images side by side, shortly after the event. Their juxtaposition had a special story to relate, one that was significantly more moving, and more historically relevant, than the story told by the royal picture alone."