(Girls Asleep, Pedlei, N.U)
After viewing the Richard Harrington exhibit at the WAG, and leaving quite pleased, I have decided to critique "Girls asleep, Padlei, N.U." What drew me into this particular image was certainly not its boldness, or exquisite compositional technique, but rather a lack of both. Richard Harrington was a Canadian Arctic photographer who shot the arctic between 1948 to 1953. His work has been shown in the National Archives of Canada, as well as in many books.
"Girls asleep" to me came across as both intriguing and interesting. I was immediately drawn to the pale complexions of the girls, and the vulnerability and authenticity of the situation. The composition to me is rather weak, I feel the left side is really disproportioned in comparison to the right, and I feel the image as a whole lacks a general structure or flow. I understand they were lying down, and given that, it would have been difficult to achieve the aerial(ish) perspective it looks like he may have been trying to achieve. As well, who knows what the situation was actually like or what his physical boundaries were, I think he potentially could have done more to accentuate his subjects and their environment. I really support the fact that he choose to place the baby in the top right corner, that provides a touch of balance and adds some closure, but it is still lopsided when you glance at the left. It may have also been nice to see more of the material they are sleeping on, see how far it extends, where it is located, how many people were sleeping there ect. I feel by shooting from the angle he choose, he may have missed shedding light on some of the detail surrounding their environment.
Despite my complaints, I like that this image was published as it is, considering it breaks some conventional technical rules and still makes for an image that radiates something raw and real, and obviously a good piece to critique. Like I said, something about the off beat flow of this image, along with it's emotional contents and natural beauty, drew me to it and not it's bold, well composed counterparts. In conclusion, I think this image has the potential to be something other than what has become (in terms of technicality) , but is absolutely stunning just as it is.