Essay / Morgan Salter

What Waits Behind the Windows

Morgan Photo

A boring portrait – a subject placed in the center to die – a building deteriorating like the quality of this photograph – no. A girl – young, but with an edge – she looks strong, yet also like she knows she is weak – we only get a glimpse of her life and wonder what is on the inside – what waits behind the windows.

I begin to question my own choices. I feel unsettled and disturbed. I feel I am responsible for this girl’s problems, like she blames me, like I need to help. I keep looking for some sign of hope in this image, yet I see none. She stares at me with hopeless eyes but I can’t look away. I try to escape. I go to the windows, but there’s nothing there. I try to go out the corners of the photograph but the darkness forces me back in. What do you want from me? What can I do?

The paint on the building is peeling; we associate that with age – typical wear and tear. To society, it is on its way to ruins, to be forgotten like the fallen buildings our ancestors lived in. Then we see the girl – why is a young woman in front of an old building? She is our future and here she is, in front of the past. That is a lot of weight to carry on your shoulders. She wears her hood, but she doesn’t give us a sense of fear towards her like a hooded robber or the KKK – she makes us fear for her; she is hiding in her hood. She is Little Red Riding Hood on her way to help Grandma, hoping that she will not fall victim to the Big Bad Wolf.

So she wears her hood and her sweatshirt is unzipped, but wait – she has a shirt on underneath, and she wears glasses. Her hair is untreated. No lipstick, no chunky jewelry, no raining money, oily butts, nor half naked marching men. Could it be – a modern image that is not sexualized or objectified – left to see the beauty in the potential and not in the product?

Those dark corners that pull you into the lightest part of the image, the subject, is a vignette. It helps to further emphasize the world revolving around today’s youth. The subject is in the middle. The image is symmetrical, but it is not boring. There is unity in the cool, unsaturated color scheme with the only warmth coming from her body. The image is balanced with the windows on both sides. And again the weight on this girl’s shoulders is represented by the heavy black at the top of the image from the roof.

Good luck, Hooded Girl.

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