I’ve been photographing now as long as I can remember. I have a camera with me almost all the time, and taking photograph is a reflex. It is almost unconscious, like breathing. On the other hand, publishing a photograph many times requires more reflection on my part than reflex. I don’t show everything I photograph, and it’s not because they are bad photographs. I recognize that the image may be interpreted the wrong way. I recognize that my motives in publishing an image may not be good.
So it is with this photograph. I entitled it American Icon 2021.
Obviously, she grabbed my attention. The Dallas Rules #4 states, “Fashion should be a statement not a question.” I don’t think it was a question here except in my own judgmental way. Her colors are coordinated; that is, hat to shirt, to shorts, to shopping bag, to shoes. Check her accessories such as the bag and wrist band. Even her tattoo blends well. She took time in picking out the outfit. In my mind’s eye, because I have a wife and three daughters, I can see her laying out multiple combinations of clothing and making her final selection. Not only that, but she took time in front of the mirror. So I may have been shocked by the visual blitz, but she was perfectly attired for a Saturday trip to the open market. My reaction says more about me than her clothing does about her.
That may be the key. I reacted reflexively to capture a caricature. My fault, my character flaw. What I unconsciously recorded was the passing of my generation. She is not some randomly dressed shopper. She is a representative of the new America.
Considering the most essential of photographic techniques, this image absolutely does not work in black and white. In digital photography you can decide on the fly to be colorful or not. It is best to begin your day with one or the other in mind. I usually want black and white. I’m interested in lines, light and shadow, shapes, and textures. I capture both Raw and Jpeg. I set the Picture Control (Nikon) to Monochrome. When I looked at this image in black and white, it did not communicate what I reacted to. The Raw file had all the information, including the color. So we have color here.