Street Photo of the Week #70

Often, and by classical standards, a photograph with its main subject out of focus would be regarded as a technical flaw but for all last week, that was the main focus: to unfocus. We wanted to see how forms that were out of focus could still tell convey a strong message or tell a certain story (remember Elias’ “Faraway Streets” project that we shared a while back and how we were able to identify with the blurry human forms instinctually?).

The entries shared by the community were experimental and very refreshing. Some were completely unfocused (with more abstract tones) whereas others used focus selectively to highlight a peculiar subject in the shot. View the full album here.

Among our top choices was the following by Ahmad in which he makes a statement about the men behind the scenes (construction workers) by selectively focussing on the wood instead of them:

Photo by: Ahmad Sheqairat

We’re usually drawn to focussing on people around us instead of on inanimate objects but by drawing our attention away from the men and towards the details of the wood, the photographer has done the exact opposite. We’re now trying to identify the faces, make sense of the expressions and read into the body language.

There’s a clear social commentary in this shot due to the subjects Ahmad chose to portray: Who are these men? Do we regard them as important on a daily basis? Do you focus on their faces and what they’re about? We’re not going to go into a debate about migrant workers and labor laws here (it’s not the time nor place here), but no doubt it touches on our perception of the men behind the scenes of our growing metropolis.

Had this photograph focussed on the men instead of the wood, the message would have been completely different. The wood plank would have been more of an accessory to the scene than adding to its interpretation, and not only that, the shot would have probably been ordinary – lacking that dose of mystery when all the answers our eyes crave are not that clear.

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