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Photo Coloring Outside the Lines by Jane Rosemont When I was first approached to submit photographs for the cover of Fourth Genre, I was hesitant. In order to fit their format I would have to alter the image, slice it and dice it, a process that initiaUy made me feel uncomfortable. I have always felt that when framing an image with the lens ofmy camera, I am making a decision on what the final image wfll be. After aU, that is why I press the shutter release—to record that image exactly how it appears, then and there. It is what I refer to as the "purity of the moment" when photographing people, which is my passion. Faces fascinate me. I Uke to watch them move from one moment to the next. When my father was quietly dying, I spent hours at his bedside, scrutinizing his face. There was a point when, within a very few seconds, his expression moved seamlessly from pain to confusion to delight to frustration 207 208Fourth Genre to awe. Of course it was an anxious time, but I felt honored to watch the last moments of his life in his face. It is because of this abflity of our faces to record the nuances ofour feelings that I enjoy photographing people. I've spent the last fifteen years photographing faces, and gathered a coUection of portraits in my book Saving Faces. The idea of manipulating a portrait didn't settle weU with me because I feel that any honest moment of expression I have plucked out of time is sacred. For that very reason I have never been able to appreciate the mflk mustache advertising campaign. Whenever I see one of the printed ads in a magazine or on a biUboard, I do not sense a spontaneous moment of fun after a slurp of calcium-rich mflk. It is, rather, a photograph taken after precise application of a fake mustache. At what point does a portrait become a product? Nevertheless eager to consider the project and chaUenge my reluctance, I turned my attention away from portraits. I fumbled through dusty boxes of photographs taken long ago, before I favored human subjects. It amuses me that the images I set aside for consideration stiU had an element of human Ufe: peripheral silhouettes on a beach in France, faceless shoppers in an aerial view of an escalator in NewYork's Trump Tower. The photograph I ultimately chose is that of a carving found in WestminsterAbbey, London. In an area ofthe cathedral caUed Poets' Corner, there are the tombs of Chaucer, John Dryden, Robert Browning, Charles Dickens, Rudyard KipUng, and Thomas Hardy among others. There are memorials honoring John Keats, Robert Burns, WiUiam Blake, T. S. EUot, Jane Austen, Sir Walter Scott, the Brontë sisters, Henry James, and even Laurence Olivier. To stand there is to be in the presence ofUterary greatness. Although I don't remember who this particular carving commemorates, I do recaU being drawn to the stillness ofthe faces, feeUng compeUed to stare into those eyes without pupüs. Were they fashioned after faces ofindividuals who might once have stared back? Perhaps I felt less timid about altering this image because already the faces are strewn about an open book. I could rearrange them for the purposes of my assignment, continuing the play with placement that the original artist had begun. After scanning the image into my computer, I used a page layout program to copy the image four times, one for each rectangle in the Fourth Genre cover design. Without hesitation I zeroed in on three of the faces for a tighter, more intimate look. To fit into the required format I had to turn two of the images 90 degrees. At that point I felt as though I was coloring Photo Essay209 outside the Unes. But it was on purpose, it felt fun, and my third-grade teacher Sister Mary Reparata wasn't there to chide me for it! Although at first I juggled pieces of the photo only to appease the format , I saw an improvement from my original documentation ofthis memorial . I eliminated the extraneous images in order to offer the...


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pp. 207-209
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