A photo that made an impact on me at the International Center of Photography was one taken by Charles Moore, “Voting Rights March from Selma to Montgomery.”
The Thing in Itself:
This photo impacted me because the main subject is a boy in white face with the sign “VOTE” written on his forehead. Besides not regularly seeing someone do this, his expression is happy in the photo. The friend on his right is laughing along. Besides African American rights being a serious topic, certainly at the time to gain voting rights, and still important in today’s political climate, these boys seem positive. It may be because they know they are having their photo taken, and wonder if the photographer or audience will understand the joke. Perhaps it’s because they’re proud to be marching, and hopeful for the future. The white pastor to the left of this boy marching along is also a strong symbol in this photo. The subjects in this photo are unforgettable.
The background shows many African Americans marching for voting rights. This makes it seem like a booming protest, an action shot taken in history. Besides the truck in the left corner, no other urban life is hinted at. This makes it seem like a rural setting, which one can understand by also reading the caption and understanding the protest is in Alabama. The trees, although blurred in the background, look mostly bare, and protesters including the pastor are holding their coats in their hands. This, to me, suggests a warm day of early spring. The most important detail, in my opinion, is noticing the man on the left. The pastor, in his outfit, with his wedding ring, squinting in the sun and being the only white man in the photo. This is the strongest detail.
The frame is important here because it gives the sense of a busy and energetic protest. Besides the truck in the bottom left corner, no other signs of urban life are shown. This suggests it’s a rural setting, which one can also understand by reading the caption and understanding it’s in Alabama. Although blurred, the trees in the background look mostly bare. This, to me, suggests it’s the end of winter or the beginning of spring, also because many protesters are holding their coats. This also adds to the positive mood of the image, that warmer days are coming. It’s hopeful, like spring.
This photo definitely captures a moment in history: African Americans protesting for the right to vote in Alabama, the United States. It was taken in 1965. Even though African Americans gained the right to vote almost 100 years before, they were still discriminated against at the voting booths with ID requirements, literacy tests, etc. This photo is strong because it shows a fight in history that continued on through the centuries.
The vantage point in this photo is important, not only because it establishes a busy protest, a rural setting, and the pastor on the left. Also since the boy in the center of the photo is so up close, we can read his facial expression and feel the hope his face shows. Also, he seems to not be looking at the camera, and living genuinely in the moment. This makes the moment authentic. The subject’s faces in this photo are very important and we, as the audience, get an up close view.