I love this photo I found a while ago on a regular excursion to a flea market. In these sad times, I take even more delight in breathing joy from it, allowing the barely sketched moves captured in the photo to unfold and reach back to the intricate choreographies from which they were detached. This photo is moving – to the point where one of the characters portrayed, on the far left, becomes completely fluid. It is not impossible that dancing (or simulating dancing) came as a natural reflex to people unused to the camera, and simply not knowing what to do with their bodies in order to both avoid the pose and become part of the group.

Now, their looks will eagerly try to catch your eye. Which one will get more attention? As a routine exercise, I decompose group photos in would-be portraits, in order to oblige myself to give equal attention to each person (as seen in my previous post). This time, I tried to recompose the joyous group in an orderly lining: not out of a need for discipline, but for the sake of another experiment. It’s always interesting to see what a specific place in a composition brings to a particular character, and how, once that order is broken down, he/she continues to relate to their peers. The man, caught in his ambivalent position of master of ceremonies and accompanist, had somehow stayed out of my recomposed group portrait; and when, repentant, I brought him back, he used his elbow to make an equitable place for him and pushed his neighbour (poor her, she was already standing on one leg…).

No use in decomposing group pictures, right? Some characters still stand out more than others.

The original photo
The recomposed group photo


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