Let’s be honest, our minds like to fill in the gaps. In the absence of all the information, our brains are more than happy to make up what it wants to believe. This is true with photos of the human body or of places we think we know and understand. It’s almost an optical illusion of sorts and we would do ourselves, as photographers, much justice by playing to that part of our minds. That is in part why we would like to bring you another photo from the great Amanda J. Cain, this one appropriately titled: Illusion!
Now I would like to take a step back a moment because there are a great number of reasons to bring this photo to your attention. This isn’t just a simple portrait of her friend, Christina Martin. This is a work of fashion and art. And while it is my intent to speak about the suggestive nature of this photograph, I would like to first talk about all the other great merits of the shot. First let’s talk about lighting. I suspect that the lighting is all natural light as I don’t see any catchlights that would indicate otherwise. So the key light is the sun or other ambient light, bouncing off the white walls of the clean US Postal trucks (which you might not have guessed unless you read the description, but that’s besides the point). With a slight over-exposure, Amanda has made it look like her friend is stepping out of a portal, of sorts. I love how the edges of the head are well defined in some areas, but fuzzy in other areas. Compositionally, we have a lot of great leading lines thanks to the structure and graphics on the truck. The glow of light from behind also makes the red and blue lines seem that much more distant as they dissipate into the background. Finally, with a slight tilt of the camera, Amanda has moved this photo from casual street portrait to high-fashion. Christina was already beautiful. Amanda just made us notice. With Amanda behind the camera, this is a worthwhile piece for Christina’s portfolio as well as Amanda’s.
Now let’s talk about the costs of setting up this shot. There’s not studio lighting that I can see (and if there is, kudos to Amanda for hiding it so well). The set is basically the parking vehicles, courtesy of the US Postal Service. Christina, as far as we can tell, was borrowed. I can only assume the accessories are her own. So this fantastic shot basically cost only that of Amanda’s experience (which is worth a great deal, I’m sure). Who says you can’t get into fashion photography on a budget? I rest my case.
So let’s get back to the suggestive aspects of the photograph. It’s all in the way Amanda chose to frame the shot. Face it…you all thought, if only for a moment, that Christina was topless. Okay, that’s one possibility. But the more likely probability is that she’s wearing some sort of low-cut top or dress and Amanda just left that part out. If you could see even one stitch of fabric, the mind wouldn’t be able to fill in the gaps with it’s dirty mind. It’s okay, the mind is just wired that way. That’s why Angelina Jolie’s Academy Awards dress from a few years back was the talk of the town with nothing more than a slit up her leg. Nothing was truly revealed, we just filled in the gaps. As a photographer, we can take advantage of the mind and hack it in that way. It makes the photograph that much more powerful. It’ll get more views, of course. Though we do hope those eyes are going to see the photograph for it’s true merits, which I outlined in the second and third paragraphs above.
Of course now I wonder: What is the illusion that Amanda is alluding to? Hmmm….even the title is suggestive.
Amanda J. Cain is a member and contributor of the Shutter Photo at Flickr Group. We love her work. We featured a self portrait, Try A Little Tenderness, back in February as part of our Eyes Hidden theme. We also discussed her sports photo, Go For It!, in March as a solo feature. But look beyond the limited few that we’ve explored ourselves. Her portfolio is quite impressive and eclectic, filled with fashion style portraiture, street photography, sports photography and so on. Where I believe Amanda’s talents lie is in the stories she lets play through in her works. We aren’t looking upon the portraits of strangers, we’re looking into souls. And for that, you should be following her work if you aren’t already.
Editor’s Note: If you would like to have a chance of seeing your work featured here, there are now two ways for your work to be discovered. The first, as always, is that you can join and contribute to our Shutter Photo @ Flickr Group. But now you can also join and contribute to our Shutter Photo Google+ Community, which is not only a great place to be discovered, it’s also a great place to be inspired in more ways as we often feature photos there beyond this magazine.