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Thursday, 26 April 2018


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The great depth of field, and the apparent gaze of the larger boy, place the two neatly -- Kids in Huge Space. Their close & caring contact stands in tension with that vastness. The figures read immediately as suggesting any similarly sympathetic relationship. This is enhanced by their anonymity: very personal, could be any such kids.

So that's my two bits' worth. Thanks to all involved for sharing this.

Looks great to me, and if you had told me it was taken by some well known artist I would not have doubted. It has that wistful quality that I love in some good family photos with the kid looking off in the distance, and shows connection with the one hanging on. A keeper!

A brilliant photo.
Here's my reading of it.
Background represents the big unknown world. No signposts. Potentially a good or a bad place to explore - you won't find out which until you make the journey.
Older brother up for it. Upright, looking towards the horizon, happy to support his younger brother on life's path. Younger brother tired, sleepy or asleep, completely trusting in his older brother.
An ideal sibling relationship beautifully portrayed.
It doesn't matter at all to the value or interpretation of this photo if Kai saw it like I do, but if he did then definitely an image maker to watch and encourage.

I thought it was a good shot immediately, before I read the story.

I absolutely love it. Even putting aside the wonderful subject, it manages to hit a particular formal soft spot for me: I love pictures with a brighter foreground (Dex's cheek, neck and shirt) than background (the field and even the darkening sky).


A beautiful scene indeed! Curious about the BW conversion. Any info on that?

It's picture a grandparent would be expected to like. For me, it's OK, but I really would like to see someone's face. I probably would have kept the next shot in the sequence where one or other of the boy's faces was more visible (assuming there was one). The older boy's face being turned away is the equivalent, to me, of the all-too-common street shot of someone's back. The center of interest has little to reward the uninvolved viewer.

I think its a great pic, too, and for everyone that also likes this photo, I would advise them to watch Kevin Mullin's "Looking for Emotion in Photography" YouTube video. Its one of the most important and heartfelt videos on photography I've seen in some time. Kevin stresses that its not about technical perfection, its about connecting emotionally with the viewer. Highly, highly recommended. https://youtu.be/Bg0nqsRmrhg

Very strong photo. People work at this for years and fail to come up with anything as good.

Its all about family magic or brotherly love and youth. When most about life should be about having fun and not caring one damn bit about growing up. It's broken every camera geek rule but it's got soul and in the end that's what counts.

I agree with you that it’s a decent picture even without the daddy goggles. The connection between the two boys is very strong. And the B&W treatment plus the open field behind them both highlight it, IMO. It could have perhaps been framed a little better. But all in all I think it’s still pretty good.

It is, in fact, "a very fine picture."

That picture totally works for me. Cheeky closed eyes are oriented to the viewer and (we presume) wide open eyes gazing at the expanse ahead. There is just enough detail on the horizon to make it visually interesting without being cluttered. And of course no one can resist humans comfortably embracing one another.

I am a father of 2 boys who are 10 and 8 years old. The older is blond and the younger is brunette. When they are not fighting they play together and are protective of each other. I wish I had and equally splendid picture of them. So perhaps I have my Daddy Goggles on too.

I think it is a lovely picture, with or without the story.
The picture stopped me, I just looked for a while before I read anything. Lovely, I thought.
This is the kind of picture to show folks who say there is nothing to take pictures of today.
It is one of those 'tweeter' moments that most folks would pass by, waiting for a 'more proper' one. It is one of those moments that shows off the power of the still photograph.
It also shows how much we can miss when we don't really look.
Nice !

"But just knowing how Mike feels about it makes me see it sympathetically to his view of it. What do you think?"
Well aren't we all sympathetic to his view now ? You poisoned the jury pool !!!
At first, it didn't do much for me. Then it made me want to know more - it seems like a photo that should be illustrating a great story or part of a series. But the explanation says all there is to say - walking back to the van after playing. That takes away all the potential for poignancy. Or does it ? I guess it grew on me while trying to figure out what I thought of it. Certainly anyone with a connection to the children should love it. I like it, too.

"Published with Kai's and Mike's permission."

What about Dex and Gus?

Love it! The picture has everything wrong with it that can be wrong according to current fashion: too dark, the subject is in the center, black and white instead of color, etc., etc., and so forth. It is absolutely lovely.

I think for most of us, the only pictures that really matter, in the end, are those of people we love and cherish and care for. And any "flaws" simply make them even better.

Can you say, "Wabi sabi"?

With best regards,


It is great! I do understand where Mike is coming from about subject matter - it happens to me ALL the time.

“Daddy Goggles” notwithstanding, it’s a beautiful picture: objectively, a very moving depiction of brotherhood and childhood.

I vote that it is a good picture. What it portrays is universal as well as personal.

I see poetry .

As a dad, I get the appeal of this photo; I have many like it of my son, and I rue the day that my son decided he had had it with cameras and having his picture taken. Sigh. But for that reason, I am all the more grateful for the many pictures I did get that photography--especially digital--made possible. But I have another bone to pick that for some reason, this post has brought to mind. I have a confession: many times, I just don't get what others see in a photo. And I'm talking specifically about a book you recommended highly a few years ago: John Szarkowski's "Looking at Photographs" from the collection of the Museum of Modern Art. A few of them, okay. Many others of them, my reaction is, "What the...? Why is THIS here?" I have two collections of Cartier-Bresson that have expanded my appreciation for what a photo can capture. I appreciated much of the late Michael Reichmann's landscapes and street shots--that sometimes violated "the rules" (e.g., square composition). Sometimes I "get it"--many times, I don't. Sometimes it bugs me, most of the time, it doesn't. It's a paradox: it's a picture, you can see it, even analyze it. Yet what it is, is highly debatable!

You'll get a lot of these, I'm sure, but: I wonder how old you have to be immediately to think, "He ain't heavy, he's my brother"?


I have to admit that the main reason for all my photography is to document the lives of those closest to me. So I'm biased but it looks like a lovely picture which I'm sure the boys will treasure in later years. Sharpness? Contrast? Lens? Camera? Time spent in Lightroom? No-one cares! It makes you feel good and that counts for an awful lot!

I think it is a fine photo, very family - evocative.

I'd crop the right side and maybe some of the left. My personal preference is to eliminate as much as possible of what's not the subject, without of course losing context.

Having said that, I think it's a great photo. Ideal for B&W, and, maybe because of that, it conveys real emotion to me.


Completely agree!

I think it is a really wonderful photograph. Besides the subject matter/emotional content how about that light? Gorgeous!

This reminds me very much of Larry Towell's work in The World From My Front Porch.

I know we are not supposed to communicate with other commenters directly, but I think Calvin (of Calvin and Hobbes) said it best:
"Consider this day seized!"

It is great, and I agree with Speed that the bandaid on the elbow is `icing on the cake'. I have taken and enjoyed many daddy-goggle photos (really, my main pursuit in photography), but this one transcends the genre. It is, as others have said, timeless, and I would add universal (without really knowing what I mean by that).

Reminds me of the Gene Smith photo of two kids holding hands on the forest path. I think it’s terrific.

Very nice - got my attention, held my interest and I got something (not necessarily definable)out of it. Could it be artistically or mechanically better - maybe, and that's very subjective. I don't care about any of that - all I care about about is what I got out of it.

The best image I have seen here. No staging. No look-at-me "serendipity". No clever irony. Nothing but sincerity which ought to touch everyone, and to which anyone who has kids or siblings can relate at a very deep level.

He ain’t heavy - he’s my brother.

This image brought to mind an old Calvin and Hobbes strip where Calvin is preparing for a bath and says to Hobbes, "...if your knees aren't green by the end of the day, you ought to seriously re-examine your life."

It works for me. I think it is a good picture. I don't need a back story. The image is enough.


Mike, I (the photographer) like it quite a lot and my partner (not a photographer) finds it frustrating.

There's so much to like. It speaks of brotherly intimacy and care. The late light on the boys is beautiful and highlights them against the plain background. While the faces are turned and mostly obscured (which helps generalise the theme) the single visible eye is sufficient to convey a sense of peace and attachment.

My partner found it frustrating because she can't see their faces, "making it impossible to perceive anything anything significant about their emotional state" (Me: "What? There's all that feeling visible!"). "And the landscape is bland". (Me: It's not about the landscape; it's about the feeling!). But note: She's a psychiatrist and wants to see their facial expressions!

Want to see more examples of this feeling? They are scattered throughout Terence Malik's masterpiece "The Tree of Life", particularly in the climatic final big scene on the beach.

It’s a super photo. Ignore the tools used to make it and accept it for what it is.

Perhaps I'm a curmedgeon, but the photo is halfway between a family snapshot and a fine photograph. On one hand, it has more mood than most snapshots (partly because someone took the time to put it into black and white), and the light on the Dex's hair is a nice circumstance. On the other hand, the horizon line at the level of their faces does serious damage, Dex's gaze doesn't lead the eye to anything of significance, and a crop of about 15 percent off the left or right would help.

This is an object lesson in good tonality. And that's without daddy goggles.

I love this image. The subject is evocative, the black-and-white conversion and the turned-away and partially obscured faces let us see a universal symbol of brotherhood. Contrary to some commenters, I think the cropping is excellent. The spaces before and behind evoke a journey; including the carried brother's rear would lessen that sense, at least for me.

On my iPad it comes over as a great photograph with beautiful tonality.

There's no need for caption nor for explanations; it's one of those images where the viewer's imagination supplies all the additional aid it hardly requires.

Good photography; whether regularly good or just this once, matters not at all. Stands on its own worth.

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