Jack with Legos, Civilized
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

I had taken many photos of him while he played with his legos. A little to my surprise he just kept playing, although he is certainly old enough to suddenly start refusing photos. Eventually I said "Hey stand next to the desk and I'll take one last one - you don't have to smile or anything."

This was his "not having to smile" look. I think the odd thing is just to see someone so young do the same serious, thoughtful, partially blank photo face that adults also do. I thought about this a great deal, why we go blank. Hiding emotions may feel safer - but there is a thoughtful, formal element that seems to me to make it less about hiding. There is a certain openness and approachability with a blank, wise face. We imagine years hence we might appear both in deep thought and also welcoming, like a dark library and cozy fire, reading a thick inscrutable book of weighty conclusions, and then the guest-viewer enters and is immediately welcomed, given a warm seat and some tea or scotch, and all that seriousness is put aside for friendly and civilized discourse.

Perhaps the look is one we imitate from old photographs, which themselves could be imitating ancient greek statues of similar murky depths. I think though this is just how a lot of people naturally want their image to be recorded, and the only reason it isn't recorded like that all the time is that photos are simply too common now to constantly gather ones self up to that state of composition.

[ tags: 40/1.4 hp5 hp5@1600 legos leica m4 people voigtlander ]

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