Robin Michals | COMD 1340 Photography 1

Homework 1: Composition

“Drying Laundry” -Thomas Holton

Thomas Holton captured a look into a family living in Chinatown, New York. In this photograph, you can see a line of clothes being hung to dry in what seems to be the summer of New York. The weather looks like a nice July evening. You can see buildings and apartments in the background as well. I think Thomas Holton’s intention for this photograph was to capture the essence of this family living in Chinatown. He started taking photos of this family when the kids were just kids and now, they have grown into adults. I like the idea of capturing a family overtime because you get to see the change over the years and with each photograph in these series, I feel so much emotion through the subject’s faces, eyes and actions. With this photograph, it reminds me of how my family is and it brings me clarity to understand that other families like this exist. The purpose of this image is to show you a daily activity that this family does. It shows you how they incorporate their living spaces as a way to dry their clothes. Now it may seem funny to some on why they choose to dry their clothes on their roof, but to me I think it is a cultural thing, but it is also about having something as luxury as a washing machine or dryer machine. To me, this image supports the idea of the old fashion ways and how simple life used to be. The feeling I have for this photograph is warm and nostalgic. I feel this way because it reminds me of how my family was. It reminds me of childhood memories where I would help my mother with the laundry. It reminds of how the clean clothes would smell and how the cool summer air would soothe my face.

In this photograph the first compositional principle that Thomas Holton uses is leading lines. He uses this principle with the clothesline. The clothesline takes up the majority of the lower half of the photo. It drives eyes from left to right. The second compositional principle is patterns. He uses patterns with hangers with most of them being light colors like red and pink. The third compositional principle is figure to ground. I believe Mr. Holton accomplishes this with the relation between the background of various building that are tan color with the main subject being the clotheslines with radiant colors. With all these elements combined, it shows balance, familiarity, hardships, and reality.

1 Comment

  1. rmichals

    In the Lams of Ludlow, Holton creates an opportunity for us who also have families (everyone) to identify with the Lams. We feel empathy for them as we see them go through life events and as you say we can feel their emotions.

    The clothes line is very important in the photo as it is a sort of stand in for the family. I don’t know if however I would call it a leading line. Leading lines lead to something. Here the clothes line occupies the bottom third of the photo. It juxtaposes with the monochrome city behind it creating a sense of the difference between the visible city and private family life.

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