In October, once again, we sat down to analyse photographs for Jeroo Mulla's assignments in 300 words only.

I chose to look at photos shot by Robert Frank, Henri Cartier - Bresson and Robert Capa.

14th October 2020


Reno, NV.

Mr. Robert Frank as part of his series, ‘The Americans’, shot this photograph in Nevada, 1955. It is a picture of seemingly upper-class Americans attending an event, and the nature of the image is lively and playful. There are two couples, the one on the left looking older than the other pair.

Mr. Frank does not focus on only one of the subjects, there is equal attention given to all four. However, the older woman seems emphasised upon because of her striking white dress. The older couple share a cheeky smile as they look at the younger pair. The two couples are holding hands, with the hands of the ladies held by both of the men. The older couple have their legs crossed and their feet point at each other, signalling openness in the relationship. The younger couple are not in as much sync, perhaps an indication of the novelty of their relationship. The girl’s legs are crossed and her foot is angled toward her partner, while the young boy’s legs are wide apart, with one of his legs delicately resting next to the girl’s. The colours in the picture are evenly distributed by being alternated by the suits the men are wearing and the light-coloured dresses of the women.

It is a candid photograph, and wonderfully capture the essence of an upper-class evening in the United States of America.


Ile de la Cite, Paris.

The photograph chosen for analysis has been captured by French photographer Henri Cartier – Bresson. It is a photo of the island on River Seine in the city of Paris. A monochromatic picture, it manages to portray a foggy morning in Paris, with not many people present. There is a boat, some distance from the island, and three boats stationed on the right side of the island. Apart from the person rowing the boat, there is only a group of people on the island that are visible.

The photo marvellously captures an early morning, which makes the buildings and trees far behind appear hazy. Those buildings balance out each other and make the observer focus on the structure in the middle. In the middle of the photo, starting right from the tip of the island, to the grandiose structure behind the bridge, forms a triangle. It is the first thing that grabs the attention of the observer, till the eyes trace back to the structure. The bridge, too, balances out the objects in the middle and is parallel to the hazy buildings seen in the back. The image is geometric in every sense, except for the boat that stands out, however it follows the pattern of triangular shapes, like the island. The arches of the bridge create a delicate and synchronised effect for the viewer’s eyes, a contrast from the sharp edges of the triangular objects.

The overall lighting of the photo is soft and hazy, demonstrating the feeling of a cold, winter morning. Heavy shadows of the bridge and the island reflect on the water, accentuating the ripple in the river. Light is majorly focused on the tree on the tip of the island and the bridge, making these two objects the main focus, apart from the water.


Crowds Running for Shelter as the Air Raid Alarm Sounds, Spain.

Mr. Robert Capa, a Hungarian-American photographer, who predominantly focused on clicking images of war, and things associated with it, shot this picture in Spain, 1937. The general atmosphere of the photo is anxiety, as most of the subjects seem to be looking up at the sky upon hearing the air raid alarms. The people have curious expressions as they gaze upwards, anticipating air raids any moment.

The main focus in the picture is the mother and her young daughter. The mother is tensed and is hurrying away with her daughter, who is oblivious to her mother’s plight. The mother’s expression and face tilt are in sync with three other people, who share her expressions and perhaps even the emotions. The mother and her daughter’s feet are in co-ordination, so are the other two men whose feet are pointed toward the road and are gazing up. The woman in black next to the man in the bowler hat seems to be saying something as she stares upwards.

There are two more women captured in the frame, they are in conversation with one another. However, the one on the left seems to be distracted by the alarm sounds as her friend continues to speak. The speaking woman and the car on the right strike a balance in the middle of the frame.

The mother daughter pair is in focus and grabs the attention of the viewer upon the first glance. The remaining subjects come into focus gradually, as the viewer shifts focus from the premier subjects. Natural daylight has been utilised to capture the authentic feelings of the subjects.