Evans' Images: Street Scenes

In the image at left, taken in Selma, Alabama,1935, you will notice that the figures on the right are blurred, they are moving. In such an instance, Evans, who depended on long depth of field--meaning that everything in the picture is in sharp focus--was forced to use slow shutter speeds. Slow shutter speeds require subjects to be still, for if their is motion, the result is a blur--found in this image. It seems that Evans did not get the cooperation that he wanted from these gentlemen, for it is rare to see blurred motion in any of Evans' images. Yet, the image does show the activity of street life at a store-front.


However, these two images(taken in Vicksburg, Mississippi, 1936)--which share the non-appearance-of-an-author as the first image does--are 100% posed. Evans not only asked his subjects to be still, he has arranged their position, too. You will notice that in both images, one figure is turned away from the camera--facing to the right, to make the image seem unposed. Secondly, you see advertisemnts for cigarettes, coke, etc... that do not dominate the scene--but are equally important as the figures on the bench. Thirdly you will notice the horizontal lines of the building, emphasized by the slight shadow contrasted with the bright sunlight. (Had the same scene been shot at another time of day, i.e., under different light conditions, the image would not have the beautiful architectural quality that it does). The horizontal and vertical lines organize the frame while also framing the subjects; the geometric shapes are also echoed in the rectangular advertisement signs.
Both images are taken with the same camera position, only 
the lenses are different:
The first image is taken with a wide anlge lens, 
showing the entire scene; the second, taken with a longer focal length lens,
zooms in closer--more emphasis on the people--instead of the architecture. 
Also, there is a different car, which in this image plays a bigger role than
 the previous one, with a pasenger hidden in the shadows.  And, you notice
 that the people on the bench have changed, and two more figures now stand 
to the right of the bench.
These images exemplify Evans creativity with a given set of variables.
Both images convey a sense of everyday life, yet the characteristics of
each are different.  By making technical changes(lens size) as well as
 aesthetic changes(subject position) Evans creates two beautiful 
dipictions of a commonplace scene, without making his subjective 
 presence obvious.

The image at left, taken in Sprott, Alabama(as the sign tells you), 1936, is a kind-of culmination of the two images above. Taken with a medium-focal-length lens, there is architectural beauty, and emphasis on the characters standing on the porch. On an idealistic level, there are many things at work: the gas pump, like the cars in the above images, is a sign of modern industrialism, strongly contrasted with the more primitive wooden house and shabby bricks that make up the post office of rural America. Notice, too, how the Coca-cola sign is the center of the image--this sign stands out more than the house, or the people. It represents consumption--not of an agricultural produce, but of a huge corporation. The post office not only serves as a gathering place for all members of the community--black and white, but it is clearly a government institution that has brought these people together: the sign says: " U.S. Post Office."

Evans has
 juxtaposed the common farmer with the modern instituion--this contrast
 of interests lies at the root of America's conditions in the post-Depression
 1930's.  Evans does not subjectively imply which he thinks is more important, 
instead, he
 has documented objectively the fact that these conditions exists.  
This image exemplifies the literary
 quality of Evans' work--this scene in the middle of Alabama 
reflects nationwide issues--there is a sense of literary context--not isolation.

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