Thomas Holton- The Lams of Ludlow Street

After looking through countless photos from each of the photographers listed, a photograph from Thomas Holton’s album, “The Lams of Ludlow Street” spoke to me personally. Through a series of photographs, “The Lams of Ludlow Street” takes you into the lives of a Chinese family living in New York City’s Chinatown.

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The Lams of Ludlow Street. Photo: Thomas Holton.

This photograph shows the Lam family┬á(Steven, Shirley, and their three kids) in their Ludlow Street apartment. Holton’s intention was to capture the real Chinatown, the real lives of a Chinese family behind closed doors. To unveil that Chinatown is more than just this big socially constructed stereotype. The purpose of this image is to express the Lam’s daily life. Even though they live in a cramped apartment, they manage to put those difficulties aside, see past them, and just spend quality time with one another. That’s what is important, being together with family. Looking at this image, there is this sense of being able to overcome obstacles, as well as this close, happy feeling.

Holton’s series of photographs spoke to me personally because when my dad was growing up in Chinatown, he lived in a cramped apartment similar to the Lam’s with his three other siblings, his parents (my grandparents), and his grandparents (my great-grandparents). My grandparents have lived in that apartment┬ásince 1967, and just recently moved out. Growing up, I spent quite a lot of time at my grandparents’. So, when my dad would tell me about his childhood growing up in that apartment, I could picture what it was like for him. It was like I was putting myself in his shoes.

In Steve McCurry’s video, he discusses 9 different photo composition principles. The 3 that I found the most important in the photo I selected were Rule of Thirds, Leading Lines, and Patterns and Repetition. Thomas Holton used Rule of Thirds by positioning the Lam family along the lines. If the picture were split into thirds vertically, you would see the important elements (which include the Lam family) along the middle. He used Leading Lines by utilizing the edge of the sink and edge of the dining table (bottom left-side of the photo) to lead your eyes into the picture (toward Steven and the rest of the Lam family).

Lastly, Patterns and Repetition were found in the top and bottom of the photo. In the top, there are the coats/jackets hanging along the ceiling pipes, and the Christmas lights hanging along the ceiling. The coats/jackets have a pattern forming from left to right, going from shortest to longest, and light to dark colors. There is repetition shown in the bottom of the photo. On the dining table, there are 6 plates, 6 bowls, 6 utensils (1 in each bowl), and 6 cups (4 porcelain printed cups, 2 glass cups). Furthermore, all of these elements help piece the photograph together, which in turn, helps to form the mood or feeling of the photograph.

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One Response to Thomas Holton- The Lams of Ludlow Street

  1. rmichals says:

    I agree that Holton succeeds in getting behind the stereotypes. He shows both what is good about the Lams’s life-their family closeness and what is tough-their very tight quarters.

    While you can argue that the edges of the cabinets on the left and right side of the photo act as leading lines, this is not an example of the rule of thirds. The family is the most important thing in the photo and they are in the middle of the composition. In the rule of thirds the center of attention is located off to either the right or left side, one-third up or down.

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