|© Blake Andrews, Saturday Market, Portland, 2007|
Blake Andrews: I made this photo at the Saturday Market in Portland a few years ago. I am sort of a sucker for caricature booths. Whenever I pass one I tend to stop and peer in. Drawing is a difficult skill, so I like to see how well the drawing matches reality. Also there are sometimes good photos to be had, since the attention is usually on the sitter and no one pays much mind to a nearby photographer. It's open season for shooting.
The woman in this booth was having her portrait drawn with a dog on her lap. If I were a few feet closer you could see the dog. But from where I've chosen to make the photo the dog can't be seen except in the drawing. The man holding up his hand is waving to the dog, trying to get it to look up. Since the lady doesn't look like the drawing, there's a visual disconnect which I find amusing. You wonder what the heck is the artist looking at? That's basically the crux which holds the photo together. But I also like how the smaller elements surround the scene, all the faces looking toward the viewer, and the various drawings, scaffolding and deep space off to the left which fills out the picture.
It's a bit of a self-referential photo, an image about image-making and the problems inherent in documenting anything. And that extends to its interpretation. Although this is one of my favorite photos, few people like it, I think because they have a hard time interpreting what's happening. Winogrand was right. Nothing is as mysterious as a fact clearly described.