Professor Michals

Category: HW1: Gordon Parks (Page 1 of 2)

HW #1 Gordon Parks Assignment

The photo by Gordon Parks I was assigned to describe is called Man Emerging. In the photo an African American man is poking his head out of a hole in the ground. The man is looking towards his left like he checking the area to make sure he won’t get caught. The photograph was shot at a low angle and there is an interesting contrast between light and dark in the photo. I find the contrast particularly interesting in the way the light hits part of the subject’s face. Another characteristic I see is rule of thirds because the subject is not centered in the photo.

When doing the reading for this photo, I learned that this photo is part of collective of phots based on a book called Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison. The book is about a black man surviving in 20th century America and the book deals with things like black nationalism, black identity, Marxism, etc. In the book the narrator tells readers, “I live rent-free in a building rented strictly to whites, in a section of the basement that was shut off and forgotten during the nineteenth century.” So in reference to this quote Parks takes a picture of a man poking his head out of a pothole, suggesting that this is how the narrator got in and out of his forgotten basement home that he was illegally living in. So, based on this info, it shows the lengths black people had to go through to survive in such a racist and classist era.

Gordon Park- HW#1

Lorena Gonzalez


Photography II

Professor.  Robin Michals

In this photo we see a profile image of Watson taken by Gordon Park in1942. The image of Watson takes place when Gordon Parks went to Washington DC to start his career. He came across her and asked her if it was okay to get a picture taken of her. He started documenting the African-American community. The image taken by Gordon Parks American Gothic. 1942 has a nice image of Watson profile. We see a picture of her holding a broom and a mop one in each hand with an American Flag in the background. She is dressed as if she was a janitor with a dress on and glasses. She doesn’t look very happy about her job. There is a Pattern in the background with the American Flag lines and the stars. There’s also a bit of contrast in the image. The image is in black and white but you can see some of the shadows on her face that look dark close to black and the white lines in the background and highlight on one side of her face. 

So this Image by Gordon Parks American Gothic.1942 has a history behind it. Gordon Parks is a photographer who took pictures of the African- American Community life and culture in the early 1940s to late 2000s. This image of Ella Watson by Gordon Parks is a representation of an American black worker working in Washington, DC. I see this image expresses how she felt while she was at work. 

HW 1: Gordon Parks

American Gothic, Washington, D.C., 1942, Gordon Parks

The picture I was given was a picture from American Gothic by Grant Wood in 1942. The subject matter of the picture is an individual in a polka-dot dress holding up a broom and a mop in front of the American Flag. The subject isn’t smiling and looks very tense. It’s also in black and white. The composition is centered, with the individual being slightly off center. The flag is also a little off center, and reversed, with the stars being on the right of the flag instead of on the left. There is a sense of the rule of thirds, where the broom and the mop is the first box, the individual is the second box, and the flag is the third box. With the flag being slightly blurred in the background, it also gives a sense of depth with the use of shallow depth of field.

The photo looks like it had been taken inside of a large room, at least large enough to hand the flag so high. In 1942, the Second World War and racism were the biggest things going on. During this time, racism was still rampant, and woman weren’t allowed to join the war effort, so they had to stay home to cook and clean. The person in the photo is Ella Watson, who was working by herself to support her grandchildren after her husband was shot dead two days prior to one of her daughter being born. This was going on in Washington D.C., and during this time, living conditions for African Americans were subpar, to put it lightly. They lived in trashy neighborhoods with houses that looked like they were falling apart. I believe Watson also allowed for Parks to stay with her in her home while he took pictures of her and the surrounding community. Parks’ intentions for the photo was to show the hardships of African Americans in ties with the government, tying a story of discrimination and prejudice. The photo sort of conveys a sense of hopelessness and sadness that is seen through Parks’ works. This one feels sad because the individual looks defeated, as if she had given up or is just tired of the things going on in her community and around the nation. The hopelessness comes from her smaller stature in regards to the flag behind her. This leaves looking much smaller than the things going on around her.

HW 1 – Gordon Parks

In the photo, Evening wraps, I had noticed the focus being a couple dressed in the earlier 40’s-50’s confiding with each other. They are walking across the streets of New York City with a sign pointing to the left saying ‘One Way’. Though the main characteristics I have seen was the not so saturated background, making a light and dark contrast from the bright red to the duller/cooler hued grays and blues and back. Another characteristic is the rule of thirds concept that this picture carries since they are not exactly in the middle but leaning or standing more towards the bottom right corner. Everything is accounted in the picture. The background, the city, the street and the couple. Nothing is too distant and out of focus, therefore everything has detail.

The meaning of this photo, Gordon’s definition, was to get the essence and sense of fashion which he loves within his camera. He shot many photos for vogue and life and essence just for the timed fashion of New York City. He moved to New York specifically because of his interest in the fast paced life that was so actively and lively throughout many different places. His models in this line of work was regular people of New York. He wanted to embody the fun and fashionable New York that many suburban people does not see.

Homework 1 | Darius Freeman

The subject matter of American Gothic, 1942 is a Black Woman maid standing in front of the American Flag. The main characteristics of the photograph are The Rule of Thirds, Contrast of Light, and Dark and Patterns. We see the rule of thirds characteristics in the sense that both the broom and the mop are on the lower left and right thirds respectively. The subject and the tools of her trade are also in the lower third of the photo. There are also the stars on the flag in the background which serve as a pattern. One of the most obvious parts of the composition is the contrast between light and dark considering the subject is lit from the left side, the right side of the subject is in darkness, giving a dramatic look.

This photo was taken in 1942 in Washington D.C. To understand this photo you need to realize this photo was taken in 1942, at a time where Black Americans weren’t treated equally and segregation was very much still a pressing issue. The subject of the photo is charwoman Ella Watson. After experiencing Washington D.C. in 1942 without his camera as a status symbol and being treated just as horrible as any Black man in America at the time, he sought the story of Ella Watch who allowed him to take her photo and opened up her home to him. The fact that Parks, composed this photo with a Black woman with cleaning supplies in front of the American flag at a time where Black people were not treated fairly in America conveys the idea that while Black Americans continued to help build and maintain the country that is the USA but wasn’t given the same right as everyone else.

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