Winter Field copyright Douglas Stockdale & text copyright Brooks Jensen, publisher of LensWork magazine
Published on the blog LensWork Daily “Looking at Images“ by Brooks Jensen
This image comes from a portfolio that consists of photographs of roadside memorials and crosses, each a marker indicating a sad story. I love the way Stockdale has emphasized the emotion in this image by using so many compositional lines that are tilted. The cross itself is tilted, the shadow of the cross is tilted, there are tilted trees on the left side of the photograph that are leaning into the photograph. On the right hand edge of the photograph there is a vertical tree with a dominant branch that is leaning into the field and into the photograph. The weeds are tilted, the clouds are tilted, everything in this photograph is tilted giving us the emotional clue, the visual clue, of the impact that something is not right. In all of those tilted lines and tilted angles the things tell us that the emotional impact of this photograph is a little bit askew. That is to say, metaphorically speaking, the person whose story is represented by the cross has probably passed away prematurely. This was an accident; this wasn’t supposed to happen; this person is a relatively young person. (We can tell if we look at the details on the cross they were only 44 years old when that accident took their life.) All of these tilted lines tend to give us that emotional feeling.
Another aspect of this photographic that contributes to that are the animal tracks on the left-hand side of the photograph. I have to admit, I didn’t see those animal tracks at first, and when I mentioned it to Douglas Stockdale in my interview with him he was not particularly conscious of them either. He knew they were there, but the importance of them in the photograph is so subtle. They are the traits of life no longer visible and that is the metaphor of the entire photograph – life no longer visible. And, of course, that same metaphor exists in the stalks of the winter weeds. All of this contributes to reinforcing the feeling that we get from the primary subject in the center of this photograph.
Winter Field was one of the photographs published in LensWork (magazine) issue #74, January – February 2008 as part of my portfolio In Passing. Subsequently In Passing self-published 2008 as hardcover book with Blurb, now out of print.
Continuing to evaluate this photograph in a broader context as a part of my project Lest I Forget