Portrait of Amalya

How eloquent is a back?

Amalya

On our travels the Hub always loved taking photos from the back. He called it his signature shot. My interest is more in things, in what Thomas Aquinas (get me!) called quidditas, the “thingness” of things, their quintessence. No wonder when I was painting in oils, I chose to paint still lifes in the 18th century manner.

But when I saw a person leaning into a chair, relaxed, at a family party, I snapped a photo without thinking, a gut reaction. Only when I got it on the computer did I realize that it was Amalya. It’s not a conventional “portrait” by any means, and yet, and yet — to me it conveys her essential qualities. Why is she resting so quietly? Well, she’s tired out from the mountain of  work she’s quietly done to make sure everyone’s been fed and made comfortable. She’s quiet now, recharging her batteries probably. She’s someone who’s always in action, usually behind the scenes. She surely needs to recharge those batteries! Does this make her sound, and look, TOO quiet, too passive? She isn’t. She’s also smiling and full of fun. Just not always.

How eloquent is a back? Perhaps it depends on who’s doing the viewing. We could always call the photo “Arrangement in Yellow, Brown, and Black”, after Whistler and his mother! But to me, this is a portrait of Amalya, and it speaks volumes.

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16 Responses to Portrait of Amalya

  1. Who’s always smiling and fun (besides me of course – lol)? This is a beautiful shot of someone who is apparently beautiful herself. You, unknowingly, picked up hubs intriguing technique. 😉

  2. tms says:

    I can see it as yellow / brown / black – and I think it is fantastic. Knowing that it is more than an abstract arrangement in beautiful colours adds a little extra to it – an essential extra, actually. Abstract pictures that let us know they hide / reveal a story? Yes, I think that is a very good thing.

    I bet you’re not surprised by my opinion. 🙂

    • Touch2Touch says:

      Not surprised, no.
      But once again wowed with your ability to phrase a thought so clearly that it becomes more than simply an abstract thought, it becomes a useful tool.
      (“Abstract pictures that let us know they hide/reveal a story”: fantastic!)

  3. jfb57 says:

    Lovely post that really highlights the way we are inclined to look for the ‘front shot’, the glam, the ‘normal’. Yet all the other bits are as important & often more interesting!

  4. rebekah says:

    The composition is beautiful, regardless of whether you know Amalya or not. It’s an interesting picture to look at.

    I’m not much of a people photographer, as you may have noticed 😉 — in fact I don’t even like to shoot people. Feathered and furry friends … that has come to be my thing, I guess.

  5. I rarely take pics of people but I love this one as it tells a story even before reading your story about it!

  6. I like the mystery of photo – at first glance: who is this? what is the story?

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