Sometime in the late 1980’s, the Guardian Newspaper ran an advertisement featuring a skinhead running along a street, and seemingly intent on wresting a briefcase from the hands of a businessman. As the camera pulled back for the final shot, it became clear that the skinhead was in fact running to pull the man out of the way of some falling bricks, which would most likely have killed him. (See here for the ad, which is just under 30 seconds long).
Having recently completed the first weekend of training for Voluntary Service Overseas, entitled Preparing To Volunteer, I was reminded of this ad when being asked to consider the messages conveyed in photographs depicting images of the developing world. We are increasingly bombarded by images devoid of context, from which we are invited to draw meaning. (See a couple of my earlier posts on semiotics).
So, here’s an image of mine, devoid of context. The context dear reader, is in your mind…
Is this a depiction of poverty?
Does this suggest that the photograph is taken in a developing country?
Did the person know that they were being photographed?
Ruminate on the photograph, before reading some more information below…
The photograph was taken from the boardwalk in Cairns, Queensland, Australia.
The woman did know she was being photographed, and it is one of a number that I took of her.
She is a Vietnamese woman, who along with her husband, fishes regularly from this location in order to supplement her income.