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This Week’s Photo – Boy with Pistol – Elliot Erwitt

I think the last image I shared from Elliot Erwitt was humorous. This one, on the surface, is humorous but something gnaws at me and tells me that there is a darker theme to this image.

Perhaps it is the tragic juxtaposition of a young, playful kid holding, what I assume is a toy gun to his temple. I mean, what would prompt a young kid to pose with a gun to his forehead? Perhaps being an African American in 1950’s explains it all? Or perhaps I’m reading too much into it!

As I look at more and more images in this series, I can’t help but think that most of the images that strike me are more about the moment and conflict in the image more than anything else. This image too is about the moment and conflict to me.

That is not to say that the composition did not have anything to do with the strength of this image. This image is shot at the kid’s eye level – which straightway makes me connect with him more. Also, the focus is on the kid with the background almost completely out of focus – this again helps the audience connect with the child.

This is a powerful image and personally, it brings up conflicting feelings – on one hand, I’d like to believe that this image is simply about the playfulness of a child but something in me keeps telling me that there is something more tragic to it.


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