Photo of the Week: Subject vs. Object, the Power of Eye Contact
I love this photograph. I love the way the woman’s feet intersect with the crack in the pavement to form strong perpendicular lines and the way in which the post and tree in the background frame her upper body and push it forward, toward the viewer. I love the way the horizontal lines of the crack in the pavement and the entrance to the stilt house in the back divide the picture neatly into thirds.
Mostly, I love the eye contact. I realized only the other day how important eye contact is to a photograph. It creates a tension, a relationship, between the person in the photograph and the viewer. If this woman were not looking into the lens, she would be an object, possibly a caricature. But, whether she realizes it or not, she commands this photograph; she is the subject and the viewer–and photographer–must interact with her.