I like this photograph because it raises so many questions for me. Two women and three children pose for the camera near the center of the frame, but on the rightmost edge, a man stands with his hands on his hips, only partially visible. I find myself feeling curious about this particular detail. Was this cropping intentional or was it a mistake? Was the photographer trying to get this man into the frame? Or, perhaps this man was reluctant to be photographed for some reason. This dynamic raises all sorts of questions about photography and consent. For instance, the man's body language makes me wonder if the women and children were actually pleased to pose and smile for the camera. Are their smiles genuine? Or, are their expressions forced because they feel unable to say no to the photographer's request? Perhaps they felt as uncertain as our half-seen man.
This photograph and its many questions come to us from the collection of Fred Bodin, who was both a collector and photographer based in Gloucester, Massachusetts. A photojournalist, Fred spent much of his career working for Yankee Magazine. When Fred passed away in 2016, HIP purchased his collection of photographs and negatives from his estate. Since Fred collected the work of so many photographers, we aren't exactly sure which of them snapped this particular shot.