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Copyriqbl l 931

C.ANEI.A CJlAn PDJUIHUfG COMPAJO'


San Frcmd .eeo
Othe r Boob by
W1WAM MORTENSF.N
Flash In Modem Phctoarcphy
Monsters and Ma donnas
New Projecti on Con trol
Outdoor Portraiture
P:etoriallJqhting
Print Finishing
The Mode l
FIRST EDITION
First printing December, 1937
Second printinq Novembe r, 1940
Thirdprinting November . 1943
Fourth printing July, 1945
Fifth printlnq November , 1946
Sixth printing April. 1948
Prtae.d lD m.UnJJed Sla IN of Amenr:o
By tt.. Meorcwy PrH.
Sanl'r<mel.co
To My Sister , Ellen
In Acknowladqement
Contents
FOREWORD
ONE Personal Questi ons
TWO Personal History-Origin 01the Formula
THREE The Pictorial Impera live
FOUR Anal ys is ol the IMPACT
FIVE Subiecllnleres l-Sex, Sentiment , an d Wonder
SIX You and the Picture
SEVEN Pulling the For mula 10 Wor k
EIGHT Preface to the Pictures
Fifty-five Salon Prints with Co mments
Foreword
Twelve years ago, although technically competent, I
tri ed in va in to ob tain notice for my pictures, to get them
into salons or into pri nt.
Then 1 lound ou t that any pic ture that "goes places"
does so b y followin g a d efinite psychological formula.
This little book rel a tes the discovery of this tormukr.
a nalyzes it in detc nl. a nd shows its concrete application
in a series of prints that ha ve won the approbation of
pub lisher s a nd salons. The book has nothing to do with
technical prob lems, bu t is solely concerned with the
making of effective pictures.
As I ha ve found by experiments with my students. the
formul a is one of wide a pplica bility. Anyone of fair
technical competence should be able, by making use of
this formula . 10 bri ng about substantial improvement in
the effectiveness of his pictures.
ONE
Personal Questions
Did y ou eve r thtnk tha t you saw the poss ibili ties of a
hne picture in a bit of landscape or a stree t sce ne that
ha ppened to ca tch Y O I ~ eye? Did the a ccid.entol pose
01 a child ever strike you as having pictona l pot enn-
cUtias?
Did you ever ea gerl y point a camera in the direction
01 these tnteresuna objects a nd lake some pictures ?
Were you dissa tisfied with the results? Did you ever
wonder what was the vital element that you had missed ?
Old you ever consider why the thing thai so stirred your
imaqination became crass a nd stupid whe n conv erted
inlo a photograph?
Did y ou eve r selec t some bit 01 your wo rk tha i your
friends had a dmired an d send it a long, wi th a little
prayer and return posta ge, to the annual show of the
Middletown Came ra Club or to the Pittsburg Sal on?
Did you ever . ctter due ttme. receive it back with thanks
and firmrejection?
Did you ever look through annuals . photographic
magazines and sa lon catalogues a nd wonder to your-
se lf, "What ha ve these fellows gol that I ha ve n't got?"
Did you ever teelthc t you would gla dly give len years
off you r life if you could ius ! see one of your pictures on
the wall s 01 the Pittsbu rg So lar: cr rep roduc ed in Lif. or
some photographic a nnua l?
All these things I have done . Twenty years ago I was
possi bly the worst pho togra phe r on the North American
comme nt. Some of my candid critics hove imp lied that
I still hold tha t di stinction; bu t it is a fact tha t my pic ture s.
for bette r or for worse . ere mere widely see:"!an d exhib-
ited than those of my critics.
Fifteen years ceo I ha d a cqui red an a dequate com-
mand of the tech nical oe xnls c! rhcrccrochv . But my
pict ures gal nowhere.
Then I discovered -B ur I am infringi ng en the materi al
for the ne xt chapter
TWO
Personal History-
Origin of the Formula
Late in the year 1918, Company D of the 13th ReQi
ment of the U. S. Army gratefully severed its connection
Merrill. New Jersey. Pres-
ently I crossed the river to Manhattan a nd enrolled. in
the classes of the Art Students ' League. Here I took the
usual art courses under such men as Georce Bellows.
Robert Henri and George Bridgma n. Alter two years of
this, I was commended for my industry but decl ared to
I obtained financial back-
inq an d took pa ssage for Greece. to ma ke etchings of
the monuments of ancient Attica. I took with me a heavy
burden of coppe r pla tes an d a great deal of youthful
enthusiasm. My financial arrangements ha d. unfortu-
nately, neclect ed to provide me wi th the means eat-
inQ; so. instead of drawing the Propylea by moonlight. I
shortly found myself engaged in painti ng poster de signs
lor a popular bran d of cognac. The prevalent theme of
these posters consi sted of a seri es of Balkan ballerinas
poised seductivel y tip -toe on the corks of bottles. Before
long the demand for these was exhausted, and I returned
to New York on money loaned me by the American
Consul. One of the last things I remember seetna in
Greece was a fa t Greek sa ilor lcok tnc with evident rrp- .
probation at one of my cog na c cuues dtsp lcv ed on the
walls of a hanky-tonk in Piraeus.
Back in Amencc , an artis t and a man of the world, I
"accepted a position" (as the saying goes), lea ching art
in the Eastside High School 01 my home town, Salt Lake
City. Here I busied myself bringi ng the me ssa ge of the
Old Masters to sixty se ductive yo ung Mormons. During
this time, becoming increa singly conscious of my limita-
tions a s a drcuchtsrncn. I bega n exper iments wi th pho-
toqraphy. My camera at this lime wa s a Sx7 view. My
first models were girls from my cla sses, who posed for
me after school hou rs-to the erect distress of the icmitcr.
On Saturday s I pa cked my camera, my mod el. and a
yar d of crepe de chi ne in10 the sideca r of my motorcycle
a nd sought a l fresco se tttnc s in the a d joining country-
side. I regr et to repor t that the Dean of Women followed
us on one such occasion. At the end of the year it was
mutuall y ag reed be twee n the Boord of Educati on and.
myself that it would be best for all concerned. that I sub-
mit my resigna tion.
From out of the West had come rumors of big doinqs
in Hollywood . So I pocked. my motorcy cle side-car with
my ca mera , with hundreds of costume pla tes, an d with
a IOrq9 collection of masks that I ha d been making . I
also hopefully included my yar d of crepe de chine-just
In case. With these -and forty dollar s- I headed West
Hollywood was at thc t time passing through its most
super -colossal phase. It had outgrown the fumb ling and
. a wkwardness of its first days. an d had not yet run into
the doldrums of the early ta lkie per iod . It was beginn ing
to be conscious of its power. It was huge a nd vu lgarly
ma gnificent. grand iose a nd specta cularly colo rful. Size
was its god and de Mille its prophe t. This was the time
.,f the expl oitati on of the "c uue," Cer ta inly ne ve r bef ore
in history had so man y a nd suc h varied examples of
feminine pulchritude been gat he red togethe r in a single
place.
Inlo this seeth ing Babylon. ma squerading as a suburb
of Los Angeles, I plun ged with my vie w ca mera. my
forty dollars. and my ya rd cf crepe de chine.
How I survived those first months remains a t this date
somethi ng 01a myst ery to me. Presently I found myself
working for Ferdinand Pinney Earle , designing se ts and
costumes for his spectacular production of The Rubaiyat
ol Omar Khayo:mm. This pic ture made much use of
trick camera work---oJ which I took due note. lowe a
qreat deal to the influence oj this man. wi th his com-
btned qlfts of showmanship and outlandish imagination.
Through the influence of Theodore Kosloff of the Rus-
sian Balle' I qot a Job with Cecil B.de Mille and became
10
a neophy te fair ly near the throne in this Hollywood. hie r-
a rchy. During the following six years I wa s e mpl oyed
on nearly ev ery de Mille production. design ing se ts cmd
co stumes and mak ing hundreds of masks .
Mean while. I corr tec on my ph otographic experiments
a nd aft er a wh ile se t up shop a s a pcr trcnt photographer
en Hollywood Boulev a rd . Duri ng this time I had models
a plenty (from the dancing cla sses oj Theod. ore Kosloff
MOTion Morg a n a nd Ruth St. Denis). took tho usands of
nude-s. Of these thousands. a mere hall-dozen survive.
In a self-critical frenzy some time lat er I destroyed the
lot
I a lso deve loped a strange facility for aHracting and
cc thertnc ab ou t me all sorts of odd char a cters and
frea ks . My studio swarmed wi th midgets. ccrcmeccdte
gia nts, fat la dies. pinhe a ds, dog -faced boys, bearded
women, and a ll the we ird residue of defunct circuses.
These stra nge folk fascinat ed me with their pictorial
possibilities.
In 1924 the en tire e leve nth floor of the Western Cos-
tume Compa ny wa s turned over to me as a s tudi o an d
wo rkshop. This con ce rn was a t that time virt ually the
storehouse a nd treasure chest of the entire picture In-
du stry. Her e I ha d access to at least ten thouscnd cos-
tumes an d a n infin ite store of properties in the way of
jewelry. ar mo r. swords. and simUar expensive cmd rare
items of dec oration. As models. I had available almost
any of the screen pe rsonages who happened to drop in
for a costu me fitting - which incl uded a large proportion
II
at the " blQ' na mes" 01 that day. Here are lust a few of
those who sailor me during this period : Rudolph Valen-
tino, AlIa Ncetmovc. Norma Shear er , Ramon Navarro,
BettyCompson, Norma Talma dge, LonCha ney , Warner
Baxter, Cla ra Bow, Ann Pennington.
Here, surely, was an idea l set -up for a photoqrapher-
somethl nq 10 dream about, in fa ct-a tremendous wealth
01ma lerial. and virtua lly cart e blanche for any experi-
ments 1wished to ca rry on.
Duedespiteall this. I DID NOT. DURING nus TIME.
GETONEPICTUREWORTHYOF THENAME.
The realization 01 this sorry feet came to me rcther :
slowly.
For a long lime I was distracted and amused, as all
photoqraphic beg inners a re ap t to be, by the clever
machinery of the camera, and by the eve r-amazing dark-
roommiracle of devel opment and printing. Wh en these
th1nqs became mere matters of useful routine, 1 still
found amp le scope for entertain ment in dealing with a ll
the colorful and excitinq physical stuff in front of the
camer a - in iuqqling with sets and costumes, and in
workinq wi th legions of beautiful and ta len ted models.
It was some time before 1 ha d an uneasy suspicion,
which presently grew into a conviction, that , in all this
wea lth of material. there wa s one all -important thing
laclc1nq. This wa s results-PlCI1JRS. .
This term "picture" would be variously defined by
diHerent people. 1 may shortly take a crack at defining
It myself. But no matter how we define the term, there Is
12
one fundamenta l thin g tha t a picture-maker al ways
expects o! his picture--that it will be looked at. He who
ma kes a pic ture always assumes a public that looks at
pict ures.
This is the situatio n with practica lly e ll picture-mckers,
I a m sure. The re may be some photocrcpbers who are
making the ir pictures "for all time," but I haven' t me t
them. Most of us would a thousand times pre fer the
atte ntion of this generation to the approbation of pos-
terity.
On the basis of this crude a nd primitive detea uce. it
was clear tha i my photographs we re not pictures. for
the y were no t be ing looked at . And , as a picture-meker.
I. had to ha ve a ttenti on. I became sensitive and poet-
ttvel y neurotic a bou t this fa ilure of my effo rts to Qet over
with the looking pub lic. I hid myself ins ide my studtc
a nd an xious ly scanned the faces of pa ss ers-by for reac-
tions a s they gla nced toward the exhibit in my window.
Unhappily, ther e were no detectable reactions .
. One definite sign of the effective ness of a picture
IS that II IS able to make the grade in salons and
cottons. I bega n to try to cra sh the sa lons and the maqa .
zines . With fatal unanimity, my prin ts we re returned-
with thanks. Still in the dar k as to what the ma tter was
an d growing a little panicky, I sent out mON and mere
prin ts. squandering a yo ung fortune in cceicce. and
bombarding all e xhibitions and salons larq-e or smal l
from Los Ang ele s to london. from Sitka to Cape Town.
The n suddenly, without wcmlnc. the thinQ happened
IJ
I had a picture accept ed for the London Sa lon. Shortly
aJterward il was reproduced in American Photoqraphy.
the American Annual and numerous loca l journals and
sa lon ca talogue s. In the year that followed this sta rtling
event, the picture made a tour of most of the principal
sal ons of the world a nd ca me home finally because
there was no more room on the back for suckers."
When I had recovered from the shock, I did tha t whlch
I should have done long before: I ga ve thought to the
metter. Why should "Sa lome" go over when all the
others failed so ignominiously? Obvi ously there was no
mere fluke involved . A fluke might explai n an accep-
tance in the exhibit of the Podunk Ca mera Club, but so
a ugust a body as the jury of the London Sal on would
sca rcely a ccept a print without some sort of reason.
, So I subjected "Salome" toa searching analysis. What
did this print ha ve that my others had failed to include?
After long study I began to gel a qli mmering of definite
differences in treatme nt and presenta tion that marked
"Salome" offfrom the rest. From the study of my own ac-
cidental success I proceeded to a n analys is of the works
of other photogra phers who had attained salon recogni-
tion. Finally I arrived a t the polnt I should ha ve sta rted
from-the study of the works of the master pa inters . Cer -
tainly pictures that have survived the criticism of the
Th ls ph::tur. was called SCl lom andIt shown in
In Aln.d_ Pho\o9l'Phl', andIncludod
Amllaed 10f 1928. Those Incl ined to f"earch

toward. the cl<:tl'lfloollon of lh.
14
centuries must have elements of both effectiveness and
universality . Both in the works of the photographers and
of the poi nters I found confirma tion for the things that I
ha d marked in "Sa lome ", and I began tentatively to
shape up a formula that emb odied these pictorial factors.
Now. there is somethi ng about the word "formula"
thaI lor some people seems to contra dict the very
essence at crt . Arl is unconfined--art is free-they aver,
a nd must not be bound down by a formula. As a molter
c! fact. a s Carl van Vech ten has pointed out . every artist
has a formula. Shakespear e had a formula , Michael-
angelo had a formu la. Wagner had a formula. And,
today , Misonne has a formula , Steichen has a formulc ,
Jerome Kern and Irving Berlin each has a formula. By
the formula the artist's ma teria l is pu t into a shape more
readil y a ssimila ble by the looker or listener.
So I sought for a formula that would provide a means
of se cur ing pictorial effectiveness.
Armed with my new formula, I critica lly inspected my
old pictures-c-ond destroyed most of them forthwith. The
formula made their pictoria l shortcomings lmmedkrtely
apparent.
I becrcn working along the new lines indicated by the
formula. I had quite extra ordina ry success in getting
reccomttcn from the sal on s. They weren't all first-rate
pic tures-c-Icr from it-but I was able to provide for effec-
tive presentation of the second and third raters. A large
proportion of the pictures which Iorm the second half of
this book have bee n seen in solons.
IS
Al the same Urns, I began trying the magazin es wi th
specimens of the new crop of pi ctures. and wa s success-
lui In obtaIning contracts for pictorial seri es from Theater
MaQazlne and Vani ty Fair .
De Mille began work on Kinq of Kinqs, and 1 got the
job as still photoqrapher on the production. It was about
eight months in ma king. a nd I sho t some four hundred
dozen 3 ~ x 4 V . negati ves during this period. Mr. de Mille
wished the stills to be pictorial s tudi es Ins tead 01 the us -
ual type 01record shot an d lobby dis play. A sel ec tion
of sixty 01 the bes t 01 ihese we re bound into a fine vol-
ume. one copy of which at present reposes in the VoU-
am Library (where it is. I be lieve. the only photographic
book to be so honored) .
About this lime. vogue rumblings and di stant squ awk-
in9S were heard lust ove r the Hollywood hills. These
were the !irst fa int rumors of the advent of the tal kies.
The good old days of unashamed magnifice nce were
a bout done. an d a new mechanistic era approached .
The depression. the talkies. growing dissatisfaction.
and possibly a lardy arrival a t maturi ly, all con tribut ed
to terminate my stay in Hollywood . So I renounced the
world. the flesh and the Devil. tore up my yard 01 crepe
de chine. and sought a stem sequ estered life in a small
vtllcce on the shores of the Pacific.
My expe riences have not a ll of them been ennobling .
But mos t of them hav e been enlig htening. And out of
them I have been abl e 10 de rive the formula. It is def tn-
16
itely my own formul a. which grew out of my own need to
clar ify what makes. not only a good pic ture. bu t an . f.
fective one. However. Lthtnk thaI II is of suffi ci entl y urn-
ve rsal impor t to be of ge ne ra l use fulness.
J gi ve the formula now. a lthough you will require the
cha ple rs following to fully understa nd its s ign ificance
end applica tion.
(}) The pict ure mu st. by its mere arra nqemenL make
you look at it.
{2l Ha vinq looked- see!
(3) Havinq seen---enioy.
The meaning a nd use cl the formu la will be de veloped
in the chapte rs that Iollow.
17
THREE
Th e Pictorial Imperative
The rea son lor rela ting "the melancholy tole 01 Me"
in such prolix det a il is solel y 10 give the bcrckqrcund for
the formula and the var ied ingredi ents of experience
tha t went into its ma king. For this is no arbitrarily con-
cocted. formula spun Irom mere specu lation. It is a tried.
an d tested rule of working boiled down from years of
experiment and pra ctical experience.
I real ized . a fter I had found e nd cla rified. the formula ,
that I had had it within my ha nd's grasp Ior a long time
without kn owing it . f or it is a formula inherent i n the na-
ture an d experience of a ll who work in the art s.
Why does an ar tist pa int pictures. write symphonies.
carve statues. tell storles? Is it because he finds joy and
spiritual release in the mer e doing of these things? Prob-
ably; but this Is not the whole story. Is it because he
makes his living a fter this fashion? No doubt; bu t the re
is still more to 11 than this.
Here Is the third reason. It is a very significant rea -
son, thouah it is Qenerolly di sregarded. The art ist per-
18
sists in bemq a n artis t bec a use he revels in the fee llnQ'
Ihal he may a ffect or influence people by his work. He
does not demand a pprobation, but he does demand no-
tic e and response. The though t tha t he may thr cueh hts
work influence people an d strike past the ir de fenses 10
the ir secret emotions gives him a gratif yi ng se nse of
powe r.
The Romantics conceived of the crust liVing tn an
ivory tower a part from men and a ffa irs. It is barely
possi ble tha i an ar tist could live and create in such sen-
Hary isolati on, bUI in order to ge l his human recom-
pen se for his labo rs. he mus t descend to the plan e of
the ma rket place a nd note a nd re joice in the effect of his
works on other men. Nor is it enough for him 10 have his
friends du tifully say "Ab!" He wa nts to have evidence
of the effect of his works on the large. pe rsonally indlf.
feren! publi c. It is a ma tter of lesse r tmportcnce to him
whe the r the pub lic is pleased. amused or angered a t
his works: but some sort at reaction he mus t ha ve, and
on this his ecc nou rishes itself.
So it is with me . The high point and the great reward
in my Gree k adventure. as I real ized lote r, was the libid-
inous gleam J detected in the ey e 01 the Gree k sailor
who looked a t the dancer in my cogn ac poster. And
it wa s probably true that there wa s more of the real
sluff in one of my cognac euti es than in aU my mild
a nd academic etchings. In the Salt Lake episode. the
big kick In ma king photocrcrphe of my yo unq models dki
not come primaril y from an y aesthetic joy of c:mation.
19
but fromobserving the react ion of my models an d others
10 the pictures I had secured.
The truth is that there Is a great deal of the showman
in every art ist who is worth his sal t. As such, he posts
lurid slans. he bea ts on a gong. he yells himself hoar se
-anything 10 holt the passing crowd an d lure them tn-
side his tent. Of course. il he is a wise showman as well
as an ene rgetic one. he will have somelhin g worth-
while to offer the crowd whe n he ha s galien them inside
-but that Is an other story an d a later chapler.
So, being by Instinct a showman, a lthough I had not
yel recoanlz ed the lOCI, I na tura lly crcvttct ed toward
Hollywood- the town in which repu tations rose, pros-
pe red or feUon the bas is of showmanship. Here I im-
proved my educa tion in the elements of showmanship,
though I did not yet rea lize their close connection with
picture-making. Espec ia lly va luable, a s I discovered
later, were the tips I picked up while working for tha i
mast er-showma n. Cecil B. de Mille.
So when I beg a n to clarify my formula for picture
success, I found that it expressed. Itself in terms of show-
manship. In speculations about art there has been 100
much said about rules of compositio n an d the motives
and emo tions of the artist. What counts finally and sig
nificantly is the react ion of the ultima te consumer---of
the quy that looks a t the picture. So we need to talk
cbout the laws of lookinq e nd lhe emo tions of the looker.
Whether you gel anywhere with your picture- making
de pends ultim01ely on whethe r you can ge t a nybody to
20
look a t your pictu res. There ar e some pi ctures that no
more require your active a tlention than does the pat-
tern on the wall pape r; an d ther e a re others tha t demand
10 be looke d at, tha i wrench your a ttention to them. Pte-
tures must speak de fin ite ly and decisive ly in orde r to
be heard. and when c nent ton is obict ned. they mus t
have something to say.
Good showm a nship is the basis of the first item in the
formula. Let me quote it a gain:
(I) The pictur e must make you look at lL
"Mus t make you look a t it: ' To all who come within its
influence it says brusque ly, "Look a t me l" It mus t c0m-
mand you to look a t it. It is this quality of an effecti ve
~ : ~ ~ ~ ~ , ~ that I have design a ted as "the pictorial Impe r-
Try this expe riment. Ta ke any photographic cnnucl.
or any similar siza ble coll ecti on of pictures, and thumb
through it quickly. You will not ice that there are some
pictu res tha t. even at this rapid glance. arrest and qrip
you r atl en tioo. Others ar e just a series of scattered oray
sp lotche s. It Is these immed ia tely effecti ve pictures that.
if they can live up 10 the ir prom ise. are destined to have
the widest recosnfnon. These are the pictures that con.
tal n the eleme nts of " the pictori a l impe rati ve: ' You
will probably nolice one other curious thing a s you
thumb through the pictures. Some of the e ffective pic-
tures seem to take effect by a sort of delayed action.
You wl11 pass such a one by along wi th the rest. and
the n, four or five pic tures la ter, it will suddenly brlng yo u
21
up short. "Holy smoke! wha t was that?" And you will
rum bac k to it. It is chc rcctensuc of eJfectively pre-
sented pictures thaI they often ca use the beholder to do
thre sort of a "double lake" (as the direct ors ca ll H).
No picture tha t does not have this Impe ra tive quality
cc n be a Iirs t.rc tc picture, nor ca n It hope lor any de-
.rree 01 prctonc ! success no me tte r how excellent the
techni qu e involved or how mteres tinq or pleasing the
eubrecr-mcner. Before a picture ccn win a ppreciation
lor ttselt Ol l the b U SIS of these la tter r.otnts. it must-s-
RING A BELL
SOUND A SIGNAL. OR
SPEAK A COMMAND
Sometimes a picture sounds its sicncl in so disti nctive
a mcnne r rbot it pe rsists throuah a we lter of conflicting
find ha bitual impress ions, Hence, the phe nomenon of
the "double lake", which r mentioned a bove .
The at tention of the looker may be likened to a poised
stone on a hillside. It is a mass with considerable initial
resistan ce or tnerttc. Feeble a nd tentat ive efforts fail to
budge it. It takes a good hard heave to star t it rolling
-c-cmd then II will keep going of its own accord. The
Imperative is the force tha t overcomes the initia l inertia
of the looker .
Since the Imperative often has the effect of a force cp-
plied against the inertia or indifference of the looker, I
shall frequently refer to it hereafter as the IMPACr. It
Is, Indeed., a blow thai starts things rolling.
What Is the origin of the IMPERATIVE? What is the
22
natura of the IMPACT? What are the things tha t make
a picture rinq a belL Bound a aiqnaL or speak a com.
mand?
These questions we will consider in the next chapter.
23
FOUR
Ana lysis of t he Imp act
Why do you look a l some pictures an d pa ss others
over? Why do some pictures br ing you up with a
stc rt and othe rs curc ct no more a tten ti on them the
familiar l ur ni ture thc t surrou nds you i n your home?
Some pictures. we hav e see n, spe a k in terms of the
Pictoria l Imperative. They demand to be looked a t.
H we dec line to look a t them we are left uneasy un til
we turn ba ck an d ac knowledge the demand.
Whol is the nature of this qua lity in a pi cture that
exercise s so imperious a command over our crttent ion?
Does it have a nything to do with sub ject ma tter? Or
anything to do with plea sing a esthetic qu a lity? The
answer is in both cases, No. A picture e xercise s its
demand on our a tten tion b efore we know wh a t it i s
about, and before we know whe ther i t pleases us. The
first impression of a picture is a mer ely visual one-
a blob of bla ck a nd wh ile devoid of ra tiona l meaning
or a esthetic import .
Some of these blobs of bla ck a nd while we pass ove r
an d relega te to the backgr oun d of our consci ousness .
24
Oth ers startle us into awar eness . What is the differ-
en ce between one and an other, that one . by sheer
e ffec t of its pattern, is able to compel our attention?
The answer is tha t a cer tai n few pallems strike a1
de ep- lying insti nctive responses within ourselves . The
Impa ct. the first blow of the picture aga ins t ow cons-
ciousness, is pu re ly biological in its e ffect.
To what sort of se ns e s timuli do animals and primi-
tive me n give the ir qu ickest a nd completes t attention?
II is to those sti muli tha t sucrces t DANGER. The first
business of the ra ce is 10 preserve itself ; SO the FEAR
RESPONS E is the one tha t is mos t easily aroused. A
strange. smell, un identi fied sou nd. some shape tha t
moves me na ci ngly in the du sk-and the nape of the
neck bristles and every fa culty is conce ntrated on the
potentia l source of harm. No mall er how far we have
ev olved. from the sa vage and the beast. we are still,
first of a ll. res pons ive to fear-arousinq atimulL When
we are al one a t night in stra nge su rrou ndings (and
thus thrown upo n our own resources) we are still very
accessible to the primi tive fears. Let but a shadow
fall on the window or a mouse ski tte r in the partition .
a nd stark terror trc ces a cold finger down our spine.
We s lop breathing ; we stra in eyes. ears. a ll ow se nses .
to give the utmost atl e nticn to the thing thai frigh tens
us.
He rein we hav e the answer to the question why cer-
la in patterns of bla ck and white have such strtmce
power to grip our att ention. Here Is wh y: In looldnq
c t pict ures . WE GIVE OUR ATTENTION FIRST TO
THOSE SENSE IMPRESSIONS THAT REPRESENT
THINGS THAT WE ONCE, FAR BACK IN RACIAL
HISTORY, FEARED,
Therefore. the picture tha t claims our atl antion most
bnmediately end compl etely is the one tha t. in ibl first
visual impr ession. relates itself to some ancestral fear.
To pu t i t more simply, you look mos t quickly an d
Insti nct ivel y 01 those pict ures tha i suggest. In thei r
mere blo ck and whi le pallern. something thai was
feared by you r an cestor that lived In 0 cave .
Forestallinq a Protest
I an tici pat e that a t a bou t thts point - particula rly if
you haven' t rea d the foregoing paragr aphs very care-
fully - you will start rai sing questi ons . "Look a t pic-
tures beca use I am afrai d of them?" yo u will sa y.
" Whal a pr epost erous idea. Does Mortensen mean to
tell me that I look a t a picture 01a child because I a m
afraid of a child? Sluff a nd nonsense!"
To which I would reply: "Ta ke it easy! You will
find that ma tters will be ma de muc h clea rer a couple
of pages la ter. So. rea d on - and hold your protests
un til yo u get a cleare r idea of.what 1am talking about: '
But, before you continue. be sure you understa nd
this poi nt: We ar e not now saying an ything ab out the
subj ect-matter of the picture or what the pict ure repre-
sents. We are a t this nme concerned only with the
pattern of the picture . the conformation of black and
26
white blobs -the first thing that catches OUI attention.
before we recognize anything in the picture.
The Fou r Picture PaUema
Primi tive ma n is surrounded by things tha t he fears.
Yelthe a ctual sources of these fears ar e few. Similarl y,
the visua l pa tterns that sta nd for basic fear s ar e like-
wise lew in nu mbe r.
There a re fow types of vi sua l stimulus that directly
ca ll forth the fear response. These are:
I. Some thing that moves swiftl y across our
field of vision. We may not know what it is, bu t
we know tha i it moves --and with swiftness and
de te rmina tion.
2. Someth ing that approache s in a sltthertnq ,
furtive fas hion.
3, The threa t of sharpness, whether of tooth or
bla de.
4. A ma ssive stati onary obj ec t that bl ocks our
path . It may be man or beast or i ust an ina nimat e
obj ec t. but it is compa ct a nd formidable an d in-
domitabl y awaits our co ming.
These lour basic fears e xpress themse lves in lout
ba sic picture pa llems:
1. The symbol of swif t a nd menacing movement
is the DIAGONAL. It also represents the onmt-
live source of terror, the ligh tning fla sh . <Fiqure U
2. Secret and furtive mov ement is represented
by the snake-like SCURVE. Here we have the
27

r , , ; ~ ..,.. 3
r..... .
prototype 01 such lee rs as the serpent . the tiger
that slithers throuah the grass , the hidden enemy
thai twists and turns. This is the real basis of the
fascination 01the so-called "Line of Bea uty ". which
was described by Hoacr th. (f jgure 2.)
3. The threat 01sharpness is conveyed in corn-
bina tions of TRIANGLES. CFiqure 3'>
4. The obst a cle 10 our movemen t is exp ressed
in a pic ture as a compa ct DOMINANT MASS.
(Flqure 4.)
Of these fow bcWc picture patterna. the DOMINANT
MASS is the one meet frequently encountered. What
causes a mass to domina te? There are several factors
thai contribute in Qivinc;J domincmce to the principal
mass in a picture .
2B
29
a . Unity. If several indi viduals are present.
they ga in s trength by be ing linked. together.
b. Cohesion. A mass is more dominatinQ if
It Is co mpact, and devoi d of projecting excree-
cences. Thus, the quality of coherence is 8%-
pressed. by a closed fist; the lack of it by an ope n
hand.
c. Isola tion. A mass gains strength tf it b
separated. from confusing or extraneous elements
of Its surroundings or background.
d. Contrast. An impo rtant method of separ-
ating an d difieren tiating a mass from Us sunound-
lngs is contrast. Therefore a light mass is eat
a gainst a dark background. and a deri: maa
a gainst a light background.
e. Size. Other lactors be ing eq ua l, a mass be-
comes more threa tening an d dominati ng the la rger
it Stcbtlttv. A mass is more formidable if it
see ms firmly pla nted and immova ble . Hence
effectiveness and predominance of the pyrcrnid
then, lolls into one of these low basic
picture patterns:
I. THE DIAGONAL.
2. THE S.c URVE.
3. THE TRIANGLE COMBINATION.
4. THE DOMINANT MASS.
These four patterns, because of thei r rela tionsh ip to
a ncestral lea rs, are the mos t effective mea ns of win-
ning insta nt ctte nncn to a picture.
Note thaI these four pa tterns are not mutu all y exclu-
sive. They may be var iously combined.. Thus . a domi
nant mass of py ramidal form natu rall y embodies trio
an gles. And triangles, in thei r tum, invol ve the use of
the diagona l.
Impac;tandClimax
The reflex, biologica lly-conditi oned first res ponse tc
the picture we have des igna ted a s the Impact. AI
though the Impa ct is the first pa rt of the picture tha t
hits you, its effect is nol limited to this first momenta ry
shock. Whe n the picture is s tudi ed. an d known better ,
the qua lity of the Impa ct s till pe rva des and domina tes
30
the whole. And often it is the pa rt of the picture that
sla ys wit h you lcnc est.
In the nar ra tive ar ts, and in music , the eleme nt of
Clima x is some thing tha i is bu ill up 10 graduall y. Fre-
que ntly the culmina licn is a rrived 01 through a se ries
of minor cl ima xes. Bul in pic toria l c rt the reverse
procedure is followed: the Climax muat atri",e fa.t.
In one ins ta nt of lime the big moment of the pict ure
musl be ther e. In musica l terms a picture may be
expressed. as follows : a big cra shi ng fortisaimo cho rd
by the whole orchestra. followed by qu iete r and ever
more contemplati ve music which dies away inlo mus-
inQ sile nce.
Thus the Impa ct is both the beginninQ and its cul -
mination.
Afte r the Impact
After the sheer btolcctcc l shock has diminish ed. the
looke r comes 10 the qui eter processes of recoqni tion and.
a ppreciation. This br ings us 10 the secOnd phase of
the Iormuloc-cnd 10 our next chapter.
31
FIVE
Subject Interest
Let us take an other look at the formula that I stated
at the end of Chapter Two: .
(1) The pleture must. by its mere pattern. make
you look at iL
(2) Havlnq looked-seel
(3) Havinq aeen-enioyl
In the last chapter we saw tha t the first effectiveness
of a picture-the command to look-is due to its bla ck
and white pattern. The ab ility of some pcttems to
stop you and ma ke you look at the m is due to their
close relati onshi p to primi tive fear responses . We
found. finally, that there are four basic picture patt erns
that have. in a particular ly large degree. the ability to
command your atten tion .
The Second Pheue
We come now to the second phase of the formula :
(2) Harinq lookod--oeel
Havin g got. ::1 the att ention of your public by means
32
01 the me re pa ttern of your picture - the visua l Impact
- a s we call it- you mus t now have somethinq to ahow
them. Your ba llyhoo has gotten the a ud ience Inside
y our tent , y ou must now bring on the enterkllDmeDL
You ha ve galien their attention; you must now hold.
their interes t. Withou t solid inter es t to back up the
picture' s original command to look. the c uennon dwin-
dles a lmost ins ta ntly, a nd the a udience goes away
a nnoyed, feeling that they have been cheated a nd that
the p icture is a fra ud-as, indeed, it is.
The first phase of the formula dealt with means of
getting cttentton. The second phase of the formula
deals with means of holding interes t.
The Subject
The thing tha t holds our interes t in a picture is pri-
ma rily, of cour se, the sub jec t- the thing tha t the pie-
ture is about. Specialists moy be interested in how
the picture was ma de. but the abiding and universal
interest in any picture is simply the subject metter.
So in this chopler we will con ce rn ourse lves with
di fferent phases of subject matter. Us requirements,
va rieties . and the me thods of presentmc it.
Reeoqnition
The basic, mini mum req uirement of pictori al subject
ma iler is that it be readily recocntecrble . Wfl want to
be able to see, without delay, "what it is a picture 01..-
33
This is not solel y for the sa ke cl clearness. The re is
a positive pictorial pleasure thai comes from the mere
recoqnition of the subject mette r .
The lmpad of a picture . the initial "cra sh" of its
pcttem. comma nds our c uentt on. we hav e see n, be-
cause of its a ssocia tion with a fe w ba sic fears. So.
aft er the shock of the Impa ct has sta rtled us into look-
ing, there is a plea sure a kin to relief in discover ing tha t
the thing that startled us is in rea lity some thing fa miliar
and ha rmless . It is not - for e xample ~ a lion tn the
pat h, but some thing plea san l1y femi nine, that con-
stitutes the DOMINANT MASS rhct so arrested ou r
att e ntion. The DIAGONAL tha t comman ds us 10 look
a t it (because 01 its rela tionsh ip to primitive fears) is
not a menaci ng movement . but me rely the comforta bly
sloping roof of a colla ge. And so on.
This factor of recog nition is a ve ry impor tant one. If
the Impa ct tha t gets the obse rve r's c tte ntlon is not im-
med iate ly followed by recog nition of the subject mett er ,
he is cer tain to be resentful. This is the eltect of the
"p uzzle pictures" so much favored by some pho tog-
rc phe re-c-otctures that. by camera a ngles. out re lighting
or wei rd magnificati on, convert commonplaces into mon -
st rosities . These pictu res , instead of a ffording a pleasant
reaction of recog nition after the shock of the Impa ct,
bring one to a bew ildered standstill. Only a fter brain-
racking thought an d ana lys is does one realize tha i
the outlandish contour represente-e-let us sa y-a tree' s-
eye view of a familiar ba throom fixture. The looker
34
qu ickl y tires of such gu essing ga mes a nd ve ry soon
decl ines to be bo the red by them. At this stage he
gra tefully see ks out those picture s thai rev eal them-
se lves simply a nd di rectl y for wha t the y are--pietu res
in wh ich rec og nition follows immed ia te ly upon the
Impa c t.
Types of Subject Matter
This ma lte r of rec ogni tion is es se nti al. But rec ogni-
tion is not enough of Itselt to hold the inte rest of the
obse rver. "Yes , yes," he will say impatiently , " I see
tha t it is a pict ure of an eg g becter.c-.What of it? "
The observ er must not be given the chance to ask
this disconce rting question. The que stion is a voided
if he is shown subjec t ma te rial that immed ia te ly calls
forth e rnonc nc ! response. The types of subj ec t mette r
tha t a re s urest in their abi lity to hold interes t ar e those
that ore most broad and gen e ral in the ir emotiona l
appeal. The eg g be at er is a source of emotional
concern 10 ve ry few people- possibly only to eggs. So
the looke r rude ly and jus tifia bly says of the pictur e of
the egg beater : "What of it?" But such subjects as a
hum a n hea d a live with per sona lity, a lan dscape full
of mood, or a significan tly distorted cha ra cte r POrtrait.
these are gen e ra l in the ir e motiona l a ppeal and are a
perennia l source of pictur e intere st.
Sources of Emotional Appeal
Since succe ssful pictorial mat eri al must be so broad
35
and general In its a ppeal. It tallows, of course . tha i it
mus t relate itself to a very few basic human emotions.
Only in the field a ffected. by these few emotions a re
huma n likes and dis likes fairly unllorm and pred icta ble.
Cecil B. de Mille used to sa y that there were jus t
four eleme nts needed in a molion pic ture to ens ure its
success with the public. As he wa s a notab le produce r
01 bo x-office successes, his formula must strike nea r
10 the truth. The essential elemen ts acc ording to de
Mille were : se x. sen timen t. religion and spo rt Being
a cleve r an d res ourceful showma n. he generally sea -
soned his opus es libe rally with a ~ J four e lements.
When I was endeav oring to cla rify my formula lor
picture ma king, I evolved my own Jist of three the mes
tha t I had found to be sur e-lire In their subj ect a ppeal.
Belore I mention an d describe these basic the mes .
one wc rntn a must be given. All summa rie s such as
these should be recorded merely as suggeslive s impli-
fica tions, not as hard-andfast rule s. Human emo tions
resist rigid cla ssifica tion, and gaily lea p the fences of
the ca tego ries Into which you try to shove them. How-
ever. the Iisl tha t follows will be found 10 express the
source of sub ject Interest of at lea st ni nety pe r cent of
the pictures in this book.
Here , a ccordi ng 10 my a nalysis, are the three prtn-
cipal sources of subject Interest in pictures:
SEX.
SENTIMENT.
WONDER.
as
Thes e three we may rete unquesti onably as the "blq
three" a mong picture the mes . It is not diHlcu1t to sug-
ges t addi tiona l ca tego ries; but I have found these to be
the mos t pra ctica lly useful an d 10 incl ude nearly all
ellect ive pictori al sub ject materiel."
The Sex Theme
Of the three. sex Is undo ubtedly the most primitive
a nd direct in its appeal It covers a wide scope. tun-
nl na Into outri ght pornography on one hand. and shad-
Ing impe rceptibly into sentim en t on the other.
The nude, of cou rse. is the subj ect material that is
commonly associa ted with the theme of sex. The fact
of nudit y is secondary, however. A pict ure may be
se xual in its import Without incl uding the nude. On
the othe r ha nd. se x is not always the primary interest
when the nude is used. (See . for example. "The
Priesless ... in the pictures thai 10Uow. in which the
prima ry Int erest is Wonder.>
II is interesting to note that wom en are just as much
a ttract ed 10 the the me of se x when presented in !he
form of the feminine nude as men are. The attraction
In this ca se is vicarious . ra ther than direct. Their
pleasure comes from lmaqiD10Ql themselves placed in
a sttuctt on wher e they would receive the same adm1ra-
lion tha t goes ou t 10 the theme of the picture. ~
37
fore, the a ttraction of the sex theme <exce,pti,ng only its
directly pornog raphic use) is in no way lt mf ted by the
cender of the looker. .'
It is probably no loncer nece ssary , as It was In pre-
Wa r da ys. to expla in and the use of the ,se x
motive in pictorial a rlo Psychologists h,ave
sex os a great energizing influence in hie. As such , It
is bound to ploy a lar ge pert, direc tly or ind irectly, in
all forms of art.
Typicc l and vari ed insta nces 01 the use 01 the sex
theme ar e seen in "Frau Frau", "Terse". a nd "Portra it 01
a Young Girl". Of these. "Frou Frau" is the most direct in
Its a ppeal. "Torse" takes a middl e ground, a nd "Portrc tt
01a Young Girl" shows sex soiten inq into sen timent.
The Se ntiment Theme
Despite the modern tendency to sneer at sentiment.
II is still a very potent influence in Iile a nd an ever -
appea ling theme in art
Lowell defines sent iment as "emotion precipita ted in
pretty crys tals", It is concerned with the softer, ten-
der er things of life. Senti ment is olten the meeti ng
ground of humble ma teria l an d lofty emotions. In a
sentimental mood we see familiar things touched with
grandeur, a nd remote things made intensely interestin g
an d pe rsona l.
Those equ ivocal moments when la ughter an d tea rs
seem to be in even ba la nce are sen timent al. Senti-
menta l also is the characteristic Roma ntic tende ncy to
3B
rea d emotion and mood into the cha ngin g lights.
s ha dows end sha pes of ina nima te Nature .
The phases and mut ation s 01sentiment are inn umer-
a ble. bu t it is a lway s rea dily recognized a nd cppre-
cicned. A few chc rcct ertsuc ma nifestati ons of the
theme a re the following:
The salter a spects of sex .
Children.
Hard ships 01 Humble Life .
Domesti c Life.
Anima ls.
Landsca pe .
Appea ls to natio na l pride .
The gla mour 01 the past.
Char a cte ristic va ria tions of the them e of se ntiment
will be found in the following pictures: "Pie ty". "A la
Gor e", and " My Aunt".
The Wonder The me
This the me is al so broad in its scope. Part of its
field is tha t ment ioned by de Mille a s "religion",
Tha t which is unknown. uncerta in or mysterious in
its working is a lway s a sub ject of interest. And despite
the swa gge r of our modern learning, there is still much
that remains very my s terious to us today. Night and
its sha dows su rroun d us dunna half the period of our
life on earth. a nd 0 1 lea s t half the things about us
remain strange a nd mysteri ous in their wc rktna, We
aa
all of us ar e conscious of lorces that move behind the
shad ows. The "Powers of Darkness" a re still with us.
The fascination of the wonder theme is unive rsal .
though some persons are reluctant to concede it lest
they betray how Flimsy this fiction ca lled. civilization
and lea rning rea lly is. If nothing more, it provides us
a ll with a welcome esca pe from the world of ha rd..
bright fccts into a land of sha dow a nd surmise whe re
one may live for awh ile with the creatures of the twt -
light.
The wonder theme appears in ma ny muta tions. It is
ingenuous and childli ke in the form of fairy stories .
It takes a humorous turn in grotesq ue ar t. It ma y turn
morbid in an interest in the mc d-Icr me of life: the per en-
nial interest in side-show att ractions such a s the la t
la dy a nd the ma n who writes with his toes is an other
manif est ati on of the wonder theme. It may draw near
the frtnqes of fear in the superna tural a nd wttch crc lt
and demonology . And the fina l ma nifesta tion of the
wonder theme is tha t silent Mystery of Myster ies
Death , before which we all pause appalled and krsci-
nated..
It has bee n a the me of particular interest to me
Man y exa mples will be found among the subsequent
pictures . A few ins tances ar e: "Death of Hypctio" ,
"The Vam pire", and "Belphecor".
Incomplete Pictures
I must a t this point reitera te one point more em-
40
phaticaUy and explicitly. Impa ct an d subiect interes1
ar e both vita l pa rts 01 a succe ssful picture. and both
must be preeeat, A picture in whi ch one of these ale-
ments is Icck tno is only part of a picture .
Both type s of inco mplete picture are, unhappily. quite
common. One cries out 10 be looked at. an d then has
nothing to show you. The other has somethinq \0
show you. but never gets looked a t. The picture that
ha s Impact bu t no Subj ect Interest is very annoyinq,
The one tha t has Sub ject Interest but no Impact is
mer ely lnnocu ous-and a sad waste of good material .
You may a void these unhappy , hclf-wc y pictures in
your work by ma king sure tha t yo ur pictures provide
both Impa ct a nd Subject Interest-tha t is, by fulfillinQ'
the first two pha ses of the Formu la.
" WaUl weur:
In view of this interdependen ce 01 Impact and Sub
lect, I a m now be ller able 10 clea r up an obj ection that
may have occurred. to some of you in perusing the last
chapter.
"First shock ar t" is 0 term tha t cri tics have appUecI
to ce rtain aspects of Modernism. This is art that qetll
you to leek a t it by she er assault on the senses. h
start les you -ond then has nothing more to say. n
screams "WoW WoW"-and then fails to prod_ e...
an ima l.
This supe rficia l se nsationa lism is undoubtedly-;:md
41
unfortuna tely-a frequent symptom of modern art. Let
It not be thought that. by my emphasis on the impor-
tance of the Impact. I am here advocating any mere
"first shock a rt". I do insist that the "first shock" (or
Impact) Is important and essential a s a means of ove r-
coming the initial inertia of the looker. But the hrst
shock-as we have seen -is not all there is to a pic-
ture. And, furthermore. the Impact must be in pictorial
terms and of a form compatible with the subject matter.
So. for example, we would not seek to mak e Mona Lisa
more effective by putting green flash bulbs in he r eyes,
or by outlining he r frame with Neon lights. The first
shock of such procedu re would undoubtedl y be ter-
rific; but the Impa ct would bear no conce ivable rela-
tionship to Mona Lisa .
Presentation of Sub ject Matter
Despite the use of an Impa ct and the choic e of
broadly appealing Subject Maller, your photography
may still be la cking in truly pictoria l qualities. Your
, picture is arresting (owing to the Impa ct), and mome n-
taril y interesting (owing to the choice of a theme of
Wide emotion a l a ppeal); ye t it is not a picture that you
return to many times. This lac k grows out of certa in
fau lts in the presentation of the sub ject material.
This is a fault partic ularl y involved in the stra ight
realistic presentati on peculiar to the sna p-shot and the
can did ca mera . It is a lso chara cter istic of press pho-
42
toarcphv . The mention of the press gives the clue for
the rea son for the fugi tive interest of the sna p-shot and
the fruits of the candid camera. News pictures and
ne ws stories a ll ca rry a date line saying this is what
hap pened a t a certain lime in a certain place. Despite
the violent interest created by up-to-the-minute news
(Love Nest, Royal Roma nce, and Nude Corpse in the
West End), a newspaper of two months ag o seems as
quain t and outmo ded as some thing from another cen-
tury.
In a similar ma nner, candid ca mero products. snap-
shots a nd such pictures all carry a date line-not a
print ed one, to be sure; but a per fectly obvious date
line inherent in the very na ture of the picture itself. As
a resu lt, they are branded as having been made at a
certa in lime a nd a certain place, and fade from rnem-
Dry as rapidly as yesterday's newspaper:
Therefore, though the grea t themes like Sex. Senti-
men t, and Wonder may always be depended upon to
ar ouse intense interest in a picture. in order to make
this interest per manent and enduring. the date line
must be eliminated. .
For instance , a n assiduous candid camero fan miqht,
on successive week-ends, get such shots as the fol-
lowi ng: (l) front row impressions of a strip-tease artlst
practicing he r trade; {Z) children playing in the street
(3) close-ups of a voodoo ceremony in Haiti . He has
here incl uded the themes of Sex. Sentiment and Won..
der, respectivel y, and for this reason his pi ctures would
be certain to a rouse interes t. But- unl ess , by some
hap py a ccident, the da te line has been left off-they
would scarcely have fencer life than the news picture
of today's beauty contest winner.
Elim1natinq the Dat. Line
The thing tha i makes a picture permanently inter-
es ting 10 you is not the reali stic. c ccurcte record. it gi ves
you of the a ccidents of Wrinkles and wens of a ce rtain
pe rson, and the a ccidents of light an d shade on a cer-
tain June day, an d the a cciden ts of background of a
certain town in Oh io. That which contin ues to hold
your intere st in an y given sub ject matl er is the kernel
of perman en t an d universal rea lity tha t you are ab le
to wangle from the irrelevant a ccidents of wrin kles and
wens, of light and shade, a nd of the circum stan ces of
the Ohio town .
Themes of such universa l import as Sex, Sentiment
and Wonder na tura lly de mand to be presented in as
universal terms as possible. This universality is
achi eved by qettinq rid of the dale line.
The followi.nQ suggestions are off ered a s means of
qetting rid of the dat e line and of securing a stronger
impress ion of universality in the presentation of the
subject ma tter:
Some thingS inevitably bring up suggestions of
time and place. AVOID THEM-if you wish yow
pictures to carry an interest for more than the
moment .
..
I. Unnecessa ry rea lism.
2. Represent at ion of episodes.
3. Action pict ures.
4. Acc ura te period customs.
5. Specifi c persona lity.
There a re ce rta in de vices by which the impres-
sion of universa lity may be heightened . Some of
these, a s I ha ve not ed . a re charaderistic of the
work of great painters.
Ra pha el frequently utilized the de vice of dOWD-
ca st eyes. He was thus enabled to keep mere
per sona lity from becommc too cccressive and
insistent.
A common dev ice with El Greco was eIobqatloa.
of fa ces and figures. By this means he es caped
from the he re an d now of realism.
The well-kno wn stiHness and primness of Hcl-
bern's figur es is another me thod of se ttinQ the pie-
tures aside from merely realistic representation.
Among pa inters of today, we may menti on Rock:.
we ll Kent as one who effecti vely escapes from the
here and now of literal rep rese nta tion. This he
accomplishes by the he roic mold of his characters
and by the av oidan ce of episode.
J am not sugges ting these specific me thods as n9CQ8-
scrtly useful to yo u as a photographer. I menti on them
10 show how arti sts hav e rec ogn ized and dealt with
the problem of eliminct inc the date line and f9pP8-
sen ling the Subject Ma tter in unive rsal terms.
45
"Is", not ''Ooes ''
The best genera l formula for the eliminat ion of the
dat e line and the realizatio n of the un iver sa l qua lities
of the subject metter is indicated, I be lieve, in the
phrase abo ve.
"IS", NOT ''OOES: ' Try 10 make your Sub ject Ma t-
ter express itself by wha t it is, not by what it does . A
picture in which your subfect ma tter is very bus y doing
something is almost certa in to lose its cha rm c f ter yo u
ha ve see n it once or twice. Whereas one returns a ga in
and again to a picture in which the subject simply
sits still or stands still a nd is comple tely a nd fully itseU.
Pictures in which the subj ect does something ar e a pt
to fly off on tangents of action and epis ode a nd casua l
a ccidents of time an d place. But picture s in which the
sub ject ma tter expresses itself sole ly in terms of bein g
draw inward to an eve r more unified concep tion.
Let me illustrat e the difference between an "is" pic-
ture and a "does" picture in specific terms. There was
once an ar tist who pa inted a picture of an elder ly lady.
Evidently a sub ject of sen timental interest. How should
he represent her? He could show her in a brigh t print
dress picking roses in a garden. Or he could show her
dressed in her stylish bes t, de scending the sta irs. Or
he could show her wearing a n apron a nd peeling
potatoes in the kitchen .
He could have done any of these things an d ma de
a bright, episodic picture, full of momen tary inte rest.
But he did not choose to ma ke a "does" pictur e of it.
46
Instea d, James Abbo tt McNeill Whistler placed his
model. dr essed in somber garb of no parti cul ar period
in profile in front of a nearly pla in gr ay wall, and
pai nted the old la dy for all time as "My Mother " , This
is a thorough-going exa mple of an "is" picture, The re
is noth ing "do ing" in the pict ure ; there is nei the r a ction
nor definite reminder of time an d pla ce; everythinq is
con cen trc ted on what the model "is" , Everyth ing is
repose a nd qui escence, an d ther eby be comes the pas-
sive mould which each may fill wi th his own Iaterpre-
la tion. As a pre-eminen t, univer sa l symbol of mother-
hood, this is proba bly the world's favorite sentimental
pictu re.
The Pictures
The formula IS, NOT DOES, ha s governed the trect-
ment of the subject ma iler in the pictures that follow.
This is a principle the ! I ha ve held 10 ever since I began
exhibiting in sa lons. I have al ways striven to keep
c ui of my pictur es any definite h ints of time and place,
and pa rticularly all suggestions of "smartness" or "up-
to-do te-ness". None of the pic ture s, so far as I kn ow,
betrays by any detail the date of its oric tn, For this
reas on, alt hough the y spa n a period of twe lve years,
they are, I be lieve , un usuall y unifo rm in spirit and
mcnner .
47
SIX
You and the Picture
Once more lei us relum 10 the Formula a nd refresh
our minds about it . Here it is again:
(l) The picture must by its mere pattern. make
you look at it.
(2) Having looked-see!
(3) Having seen---enioyl
The las t couple of ohcrpters have taken us through
the first two phases of the formula . We sa w that the
first problem wa s to make people look at your picture .
To do this, you must embody- in its blac k and white
pa Hem-a command 10 l ook . The picture pattern s that
are most effective in stopping y ou and ma king y ou
look a t them are those that ar e most closely rel a ted to
primitive fear resp onses. There are Iour such patterns
that , because of this rela tionship, are pa rticula rly able
to command your att en tion: the DIAGONAL, the
S-CURVE, the TRIANGLE, the DOMINANT MASS.
When attention is secured . you must reward it wi th
sublect matter of wide emotional appeal. There a re
"
three themes, we sew, tha t are specially dependable as
sources of subject interes t. These are SEX. SENTI-
MENT and WONDER. These three themes are most
lasting in their appeal if they are presented in such a
manner a s to eliminate the "date line" of actual time
and pl a ce .
The Third Phase
This brings us 10 the third an d final phase of the
fonnula:
(3) Having seen-enjoy.
In terms of the formula , you have. so far. (l) gotten
you r pub lic's att en tion by means of the reflex "shock"
(Impact) of the pict ur e patt ern: (Z) rewarded them with
inter esting Sub ject Malte r. Thi s po int is a s far as many
pictures can bring the ir public. Suc h a pic tur e gets
the ir a ttention; they look and find the subject reason-
ably interesting-then , without further ado. they pass
qui ckly to the nex t picture. This is what happens to
news pict ures and to su pe rficial pictorial works.
But a picture , in order to be complet ely satisfying.
must br ing its public one s tep further. After being
comma nd ed to look a nd a fter be ing shown interesting
subj ect mett e r. then the looker must be given aD oppOr-
tunity to participate in the picture.
You and the Picture
This po int of participation in the picture requires
some explanation.
You may protest tha t you don't pa rticipa te in a .piC-
ture. you just look a t it. But I as k you to consider
mere carefully wha t ha ppens when you look at a
picture. After you have oriented yourself .an d f o u ~ d
oul what the picture is about. does your mind rema m
a pau!ve receptive blank. upon which the picture
imprints itself as on a photographic plcte? Surely not.
On the contrary , your eye-and therefore your mind-
is, when it looks a t a picture, never wholly a l rest, but
moving a ctivel y throuch the picture.
Let me illus tra le: Onl y when looking a t a bla nk
plece of paper. such as Figure 5, does your mind re-
main completely a blank. lei it be given a single
dlcconc l line to play with (Figu re 6), an d your eye
swoops up it . Given a curv e (Fiqure 7). your eye
moves along It, caresses the curve a t the top. and
Sinks down on the other side. With a more complex
con tour . such as Figure 8. the eye rise s from the impa ct
A, dela ys over an episode 0 1 B, moves de liber ately
through the curv es 01 C, and fina lly sinks at 0 ,
By this active motion within the picture . sliding
swiftly a long some line. reta rded a momen t by a bit
of detail. then raci ng onward a ga in-noting. compar-
ing, en joying-the looke r participates in the picture
a nd mak es It pe rt of hi s experien ee.
This partici pa tion in the piclure reccts on the Subj ect
Motte r, a nd lifls il 10 greater importance and interes t
By skillfully guiding the looker in his experiencing of
the picture, the a rtisl enriches the Subj ect Matter. con -
firms an d de velops it.
Many diffe rent sorts of experie nce are likely to be
encountered by the mind as it moves throuc;hthe pW-.
tura . I canna! att emp t 10 talk about them a ll within the
Umlts of this chapter; but I will discuss a few of the
more fa milia r an d cenercllv useful types.
Mo....m.DI and Hindrance
In movement and hindrance we hav e rea lly two dif-
ferent and opposite sorts of picture experience. But 1
discuss them together, because each Is a necessary
complement of the other.
In the preceding para gra phs I have given, I believe,
some sort of Idea of the experie nce of movement wi thin
the picture. (See Ftcures 7 and 8.) On e poin t needs
to be stressed. perhaps, lest the re be any misunder-
standinQ about it . When I speak of "move ment withi n
the picture " I have no reference to what is known as
an "a ction picture"- the depiction of a clion performed
by the sub ject. The "movement" I refer 10 is that of
the .ye and mind of the looker. tracing contours, dally-
Inq ove r detail, e tc., as I described above. There may
a ctually be more "movement" of this sort in a picture
of a perfec tly pcsstve sub jec t than there is in an cctton
picture of a pole-vaulter slop ped in the middle of his
lliqht.
Mov.m.nl is the simplest of the looker's experiences
within the picture , and the mos t necessary. For it is
through movement tha t the eye is led 10 other types
of experien ce . Without movement, the eye rests. s todgy
and becalmed . somewhere near the cent er of the pic-
ture, and expe rience s little else than ennui,
52
Movement ta kes place mos t freely and frequ ently
al ong contours a nd outlines. In order to gui de move-
ment, a contour does not need to be continuous or
unbroken. Indeed. a s we shall see, the e ye enjoys
la king leaps over considerable gaps In the con tour . U
the contours are cleverly contrived. they wil l lead the
eye through a sort of "grand lour" ol the picture, turn-
ing it back c e nilv whenever it ve nture s too near the
edge , a nd gu iding it repeatedly into, thro ugh and
ar ound the subje ct ma iler. A frequently usef ul device
In qu lding move men t within a picture con sists of the
folds of drapery or costwne.
A more sub tle and less ins istent type of move men t
is that caused by qr adation. This type is particularly
noti ced in a picture in which the device of "dodgin g
In" has been utilized.. In such a case. the darkened
comers sub ject the eye to gentle pressure, quidinQ it
back Into the picture. Even wi thout contours to QUide
it , the eye will mov e a long a plain surface if there is
qradation to lead it on.
There ar e severcl thtnas that a re apt to impede
seri ously or eve n prevent movement in a picture. One
of these is the presence of "traps"- sma ll, enclosed
light ar eas such as those tha t occur between the
crooked elbow and body. ' A trap sucks the attention
Into it and prevents the eye from moving on.
Another likely source of interferen ce with movement
is the com.rs of the picture itself . Each comer is a
For huther detail on '"Iz" a ps : ' _ the WTit .. r' . 'rite NooS.l, paqe .5&.
53
sort 01 " tra p" , in fact. a nd exercises the sa me kind 01
hann1ul restraint. Movement. therefore. needs to ~
carefully side tracked pest the comers; for. once il IS
drawn into a comer. there is very lillie chance of ex-
trica ting it aga in.
Care shoul d be taken al so c cctnst running the move-
ment out at the side 01 the pi ctu re. Once the ey e is
ca rried clear out of the picture. i l finds its way ba ck
with the greatest difficulty. If the movement does not
encoun ter the side 0 1 too abrupt an a ngle, however,
it may be successfully carried a long the edge a nd
presently diverted. back into the picture.
This harmful tntert erence with moveme nt thet we
have jus t been discussing should not be confused with
various types of te mpora ry hindrance tha i lend zest
an d vari ety to the looker' s experien ces within the pic-
ture . Movement that is 100 obv ious. too easily a ccom-
plished . too cut-e nd-dr ied. rapi dly bec omes bo ring , So
a wise picture-maker incorpora les a few hindra nce s
and obs ta cles on the line of movement These mome nts
of resistance ma ke the fina l a cco mplish ment infinitely
more pleasant. This resistance. once we have appre-
ciated it, bec omes a s essential to us (to ind ulge in
qastronomic an a logy) as the lang of bitterness in beer
and the crispness of celery .
This resistance ta kes var ious forms. I mention tw o
of the more familiar ones. On e sar i c l res lslance is
encountered when the guiding contou r thins out 10 a
mere suggestion or moment a rily disappears entirely .
This "los ing and finding" of the outline is a lways a
pleasing experience. If an act ua l gap occurs. the eye
will glad ly toke the jump and e njoy doing i1-particu-
la rly if the directi on of departure and the "lcnd tnc
place" are well de fined .
Anothe r sort of res istance is that introduced by com-
ple xity of contour or by bits of detail. Momen ts of
comp lexity a nd det a il force the eye to slow up Us
movements . and thus bring va riety into the experience
within the pic ture.*
Movement and resista nce should occur In the pict ure
in wise c lt emc uon , for ea ch experience gains in pun-
gency by the contra sting presence of the other.
Ta ctile Qu ali ties
Probably the most primitive of a ll sense impre ssi ons
is that of the sen se of touch . It is, therefore. pcrncc-
la dy charged with prof ound e motiona l associations .
Locking at pictu res is. of cou rse ba sica lly a "rIAcd
expe rience . But it is possible to render pictures-par-
ticularly photographic pictures-e-m such a way that
surface textures and detail s or ouse distinct tac:tn. as-
sociati ons. Owing to the primitive character of the
sense of touch, these tacti le a ssociati ons are amonQ
the most powerful and profound of the experiences
within the pictu re .
' Pgrt ll;\llcrrly Qood m..l eme-a of lh...... oj Tartous kin .. cot .....~ c.MI
h l n ~ c . aTe m nd In w_" ~ po;. 121.
Taettle ass ocia tions greatly enhan ce the emotional
ba ckqround 01 the three subi ec t themes tha t we con-
sidered In the la st chcpter. Note. among the pictures
that follow, how the SEX inte res t of "Portra it of a Youna
Gtrl" is increased by the tactil e quality of the smoo th
shoul ders: how the impressi on 01 softnes!Jof "Mr. Wu"
increases its SENTIMENTAL inter est; ond how, in "The
Heretic". the pa inful ta ctile ass ociations of the nailA
enhance the WONDER theme .
These associations of the sense of lauch na tura lly
cause the mind to llnqer over them, since touching
implies ltnae rtnc. Tactile qual ities a re. indeed. a type
of hindra nce or resis ta nce to movement within the pic-
ture. As such they should be limited to small , isola ted
deta ils or spots. since a picture tha t is all resistance
allows no opportunity for free movement.
Here in lies the reason for the weakness of so-called
"Punsf pictures that give a litera l an d comp lete e ll-
over rendering of the texture of skin, of a cabbage. or
of an old fence post. It is. of cou rse , excee dingly
doub tful that such subj ect molter is ever worthy of
representa tion. But. a ssuming tha t it is, the Purist's
picture fails to give so true a n impress ion of the real
tactl1. qu ali ty of the texture a s the less lite ral ve rsion
that limits full de tail to a few clima tic " ta rry ing poi nts".
The complete detai l in all parts of the Puris t's version
pre vents the eye from moving an d arriving a t an ap-
precia tion of the texture in its tactile quclmes.
Confirm1nq Forms
When the mind leaves the contemplati on of the me re
subjec t matt er and begins 10 move through the hlqh
ways and bywa ys of the picture, it runs into numeroua
subsidiary shapes and config ura tions of line . As it
lingers over these, it gains a n impressi on of enrlebad
physical experience. Since it comes to them imme--
dia tely af ter leaving its con temp lation of the subject
ma tter, it encounters with pa rticular pleasure those
sha pes tha t confirm the impUeatlOD of the Sublect
Matter. By such expe riences the Sub ject Matter Itse U
is enriche d a nd brough t nea rer to the uni versal.
Disc uss ion of details from a couple 01 picture s will
mc ke this point clearer.
Nole, for exa mpl e, "Iohcn the Mad". This is a WON.
DERtheme. dealing with torture and aberra tion of mind.
This torture of mi nd is clearly sho wn in the face--
where we first look-in the exp ress ion of the eyes and
the twisted mouth . Leaving the face and mcvtnc
throug h the pict ure , we quickly come upon coDfirmlDq
forms. The twist of the mouth Is con firmed and re-
peated-in an othe r med ium-in the qrimly twisted and
knotted headdress . Furth er on in the picture, the sense
of a be rra tion is given increased emphasis by the arbi-
trary diag ona l tha t cu ts a cross the base. and by the
erratic pla cement of the title.
Another use of confi rming form is found in "Nteeclc
Machi avelli ". Note. in thi s picture . the little ribbon that
hangs down from the righ t side of the cap. Make the
"
expe riment of plac ing your thumb over this detail and
note how the picture is weak ened the reby. This ribbon
confirms . in its own medium, the impression of evasive-
ness and slyness tbct is gi ven by the stde -qlrmce 01
the model. The little quirk at the end of the ribbon
does the trick.
Echoes
" Mar y ha d a little lam b,
Its fleece was wh ite as sno w,
And everywhe re tha t Mary we nt
The lo mb wa s su re to go."
It is not me rely the senti ment of this immor ta l ver se
tha t makes it pleasant, bu t the re pet ition of familiar
sounds. "Snow go"-young an d old a like re-
joice in the clic k end jing le of the sounds that so
quaintly finds similarity in matte rs a pparently un re-
lc ted.
The eye, in its movement through the pict ure, ta kes
si mila r pleas ure in find ing shapes tha t jingle a nd
rhy me. The se rhymes in form al so serve, like the
rhymes in poetry . to tie toge ther parts tha t ar e remote
from each othe r.
Thes e rep etitions or echoes of form ma y be regar ded
as a spe cial ca se of "co nfirming forms ". In this ca se
we ha ve one form more or less literally confirming
another, ra the r than rendering in a nother me di um the
implication of the subject matter.
Inve stic c tion will sh ow many instances of echoed
form in the picture s that follow. One exampl e is found
in " Ma chia velli". Note tha t the motive of the curled tip
of the ribbon that we menti oned in the las! section is
d istinctl y repeated in the clou d form in the background.
Rhyme or echo of form is a very pleasing effec t. but
d iscrimination must be used. in employing it. Its use
sh ould be isolated a nd de finite . Too many echoes in
one pictu re ore merel y con fusing, monotonous and
lack ing in point. The effect is precisely that of a hollow
room that ech oes and re-ec hoes until the sense and
iden tity ol the orig ina l so und is lost in the ccnfusion.
SEVEN
Putting the Formula to Work
At the risk of trying your patience, I mus t onc e more
quote the formula. The formula is the very heart of
the book. an d it is essential that you have i t clearl y in
mind before we proceed to discuss its a ppli cati on to
concrete problems. And so, lad ies and ge ntlemen, I
pr esent, for its posi tively fi nal app eara nce on thi s stc ce.
THE FORM ULA :
(l) The picture must. by its mere pattern, ma ke
you look at it .
(2) Having looked-see!
(3) Having seen-enj oy l
The first problem dea lt with in this formula for pic-
toria l effectiven ess is thai of overcoming the initia l
inertia of the obser ver and of making him look at yo ur
picture. The thing in a pictu re thai ma kes it able 10
command ctt ention at fir st glance is, not it s sub ject
ma tter. bu t its mere bla ck and while pattern. This
initial crash of the picture patt ern that wa kes you up
and makes you look, we have designated as the
60
IMPACT. Ther e a re a lew picture pctterns that are
outsta nding in their abilit y to commend a ttention.
These are patt ern s that bear close relati onsh ip to primi.
tive fea r responses. Four of them are particularly
qualified in this way: The DIAGONAL, the S.cuRVE,
the TRIANGLE, the DOMINANT MASS. Picture s based.
on these pa ttern s have the s trongest Impact an d are
most certain to command your allention.
The sec ond phase 01 the formula deals with the
pr oblem of holdin g the observer's interest. once you
ha ve c otten his a ttention. To do this. you must provide
him with subject mailer. 0 1 course, not all sorts of
subject matt er are equall y interesting . Sub ject ma tter
is interes ting in prop ortion to the emotional response it
crea tes. We mus t, therefore, seek sub ject ma tter of
wide emotional appeal. There a re three subj ect themes
that, beca use of the ir un iver sal emotional ba ckgroun d,
are esp ec ially dep endable sources of subject inte rest:
SEX, SENTIMENT, and WONDER. These theme s are
most lasli ng in thei r interest if, in their presentati on.
they ar e kept free from crass a nd rea listic implicati ons
01 time an d place .
In the third phase of the formula we con sidered
me thods of br inging a bout the looke r's participation in
the pictur e. Unles s it is 10 be of merely tempora ry and
topica l Inter est, the looker must find expe rience within
the picture tha t enriches and enhances the subj ect
mailer. There are, we saw, nu merous sorts of experi-
ence that give the looker a sense of participation in the
51
picture: MOVEMENT an d HINDRANCE, both eSS801ial
an d complementary 10 ea ch other; TAC!ILE QUALI
TIES. through which the pungent experience 01 the
sense of touch enh a nces the emotiona l suggeshon 01
the Subiect Matter ; CONFIRMING FORMS, forms tha t
reitera te, In their own a bstrac t medium, the
01 the Subject Ma ller; ECHOES, repetiti on, WIth sl tcht
vcncucns. 01 the same formal motive in va rious par ts
of the picture .
You and the Formula
This, 'hen, is the formula : the formula which I orta tn-
all y developed a s a mea ns of improving my own
work and of gaining a larger au dience for it. But. as
I ha ve found by experimentation with photographic
stude nts of mine, It is capable of wider and more qen-
ercl application. I believe that this formula embod ies
a method by which a ny photographer of fair in tell i
qence a nd de cent te chnical competence may de finitel y
be tter his pic ture s a nd se cu re wi der recognition for
them .
But merely rea ding ab out the formula will not de
you any good. You mustleam 10 a pply it. So in this
chapter I offer some general suqges tions ab out using
the formula as a ba sis of self-criticis m of your own
'Nark.
Obviously, general sugge stions ar e the only kind of
sugges tions that would be usefu l. The spe cific cpplicc-
62
lion to your own specific problems is up to you. You
must pu t forth your own initia tive in applyinq the
formula. Without this initia tive, the formula is about
a s likely to benefit you as the General Law of Belo-
tivity or the Third Law of Thermodyna mics.
Applyinq the First Phase
The first pha se of the formula. you wil l remembe r,
dea ls with the IMPACf ab ility of the pic ture to
get yow att ention.
Try this e xperiment with your own pictures. Tak e a
specimen se lection of your prints. not les s than a dozen.
(Or follow the sa me procedure with proofs that you
contempla te mak ing into pr ints .I Set the prints (or
proofs) a ga inst the wa U upside-down. Or else strew
them casua lly about the floor. wrona- stde-up or cr0ss-
wise, or however they happen to lan d. Now tum your
ba ck on them a nd aher a brie f pause look suddenly
towa rds them. The purpo se of thts strcn ae perfonnance
is to enabl e you to see the pictures freshly and imper-
sona lly, not as your own pictures a t all . Give the
qroup a s a whole a gla nce of not more than two
se conds' dura tion a nd turn away again,
Now. Without looki ng ba ck, try to recall which pic-
tures, in tha t single ha s ty glance, caught and held yo ur
eye . Hav ing ma de your selecti on men tally , tum
ar ound again a nd set these pictures In Q pile by them-
selves.
63
These selected pictures ar e the ones with the best
qualities of IMPACT a nd we will use them further for
purposes of a na lysis. For the moment tum you r e tten-
tlon to the discar ds. the pictures tha t failed to get you r
attenti on. Let us see wha t is wrong with them. Prob-
ably they look like Figure 9. Or possib ly they re-
semble Figure 10.
Pictures tha t lack IMPACT are proba bly mar ked by
one of the three following characteristics:
1. Scatt ered or speck led bla cks and whites.
There is no dominati ng pcuem. This is the spec ia l
lault of Figure 9. This is a freque nt failing in
landscapes.
2. Gen era l la ck of contrast. The picture . in
other words. is grey all ove r. Pattern , if it is there.
is not conspicuous enough. This is the fault de mon-
stra ted in Figure 10.
3. More speci fically. the complete absen ce of a ny
of the four ba sic picture patt erns: DIAGO NAL
S-CURVE. TRIANGLES. 0 ' DOMINANT MASS.
OJ the four basic patterns, DOMINANT MASS is un-
doubtedly of the most frequent occurrence. Often,
among picture s tha t ar e lac king in IMPACT, one may
de tect traces of Incipie nt Domina nt Ma ss- tha t Is, of
would-be Dominant Mass that for some reason fail s
to dominate.
Fai lures of Dominant Ma ss may be due to vari ous
cru ses. Here are some of them :
64
Fiqur. 9, S<; "lt<>rotd bloc b " " d w h U,". No bcullc picture ponem.
I . Lack of size. In order to domina te. a fiqure
mu st se em formi da ble and impressive. A small
figure in a la rge a rea of picture dominat es wi th
difficulty.
2. Lack of unity. Ins tead of a single mass.
ther e may be severa l unrelated and unconnected
ma sses .
55
3. Lack of cohlon. A mass will not dominate
if It spreads about lnstead of being concentra ted.
4. Lack of .tabWty. Form loses lis ability to
domina te if It does not appear firmly planted and
stable. Forms that domina te a re usua lly broa der
-rt the base than a t the lop.
5. Lack 01 Isolation. Forms are strong est when
they stand al one. The Isola tion of the ce nrta l form
may be dcmcced by subs idiary forms thct crowd
in upon It from the sides or by over-insis tent back-
grounds .
The method. of elimina ting these fa ults is. 1 be lieve .
larqely eelt-evtdent-c-t.e., conscientiou s endeavor to
keep them out of your pictures. There a re a t least five
diHerent staQes in the mc kina of a phctccrcrph when
you have opportunity to elimina te these and simila r
faults, and 10 ensure your picture having the bes t pos-
sible quali ties of IMPACT. These are the five stages:
I. Preliminary pla nning . A pictur e that is
thouqh t out In advance and possib ly planned tn
a thumb-naU sketch can avoid man y of the faults
that weaken the IMPACT of a casual. unplanned
potshot,
2. DurinQehocttna. In this slage the es sential s
of the picture are set and established . so when you
look at the potential picture on the cro uod-alcss or
"
r lQure 10. Basil:: pictu re p . : I l t ~ m of DOMI NANT MASS q ,..gtl J" __1I: ....d
by Qener31lack ofconmut.
57
in the finder of your camera, make sure that it con-
tains elements of IMPACT:
3. Selection of Proofs. In weeding out the
proofs, oppo rtunity Is given both to eliminate those
that are hopel essly deficient in IMPACf and to
pick out those In which the IMPACf may be
strengthened by subsequen t operations.
4. Durinq proieclion pri nting. Various types of
control applied dw i ng projection-local printing,
dodqing, viqne tUng, elonga tion, etc-c-offer oppor-
tunity for enhancinq or alt ering the quality of the
IMPACT."
5. Control processes. Such processe s as the
Paper Negative an d Bromoil Transfer a llow of
much control in dealing with facto rs of the IM-
PACT.
Applylnlj the Second Pha se
In this roundabout manner we return to the experi-
ment that we star ted a couple of pa ges back wi th a
dozen of your print s. We were left with two piles of
pictures: one grOUP of pictures be ing distinguished by
positive qu a lities of [MPACT: the other group lacking
in IMPACf. save as It may be enhanced. in one or
two cases by the use of Projection Control or other
control processes .
:!at::: .. 01 PICtur .
lome 01 th_ me thods m my vercme on New Pl'Ol eo: l:lo..
58
Let US now continue with the group tha t you se lected
a s ha ving Immedi a tel y a rresting qualities of pattern.
Set them up in a row, right side up this time, and
look them ove r carefully. The next proble m, In terms
of the formu la. is tha t of Subject Matte r and its presen-
ta tion. Cons ider the subject matt e r of each picture.
Decide can didly. unswayed by any personal eleme nt.
whe ther the subject mail er in each case is really of
general emotional appeal. Note in particular whether
any of them fit inlo the ca tegories of SEX. SENTIMENT.
or WONDER. No matter how excellent the qualities
of lMPACf, relentlessly throw out everything in which
the sub ject ma iler is lacking in ge neral emotional ap-
peal.
This wi ll leave you- I ho pe-with a detectable re-
ma inde r. Sub ject this re ma inde r to another scrutiny.
Look this time for bald and realistic notes In the sulr
feet ma tter tha t se t a definite "da le line " on the picture.
If the "da te line" is present in obvious literal reminders
of time and place in cos tume or background- throw
the pict ure out.
If you have any pictu res left a t this point. yo u are
now ready to undertake the third phase of the fonnula.
Applylnq the ThIrd PhaH
The third phase is conce rned , as yo u will remember;
wi th the various de vices that he ighten the looker's
sense of experience in the picture .
69
So now examine your remai ning pictures (if any)
with these thlnss in view. You are not any longer
concerned with literal sub ject matter, so you may be
able to get a fresher impres sion of the pictures by
looking at them in vari ous una ccustomed ways-up-
side down, crosswise, close a t hand, for away. Pay
attention, not to subject matter, but to lines, cont ours ,
pa tterns and abstract shapes.
The most essential of experiences within the picture
are those of movement and hindrance. Every picture
should provide both. There fore, look to see whether
your pictures contain these ne cessary elements. Is
the eye led through and aro und the picture by a fairly
continuous contour ? Does this contour hold the eye
within the picture an d guar d it against falling into the
comers? On the other ha nd, is the contour made in-
teresting an d varied by momen ts of resista nce and
hindrance? Is the contour kept from be ing too smug
and easy by bils of complexity or de tail tha t cause the
eye to tarry a moment?
Discard the pictures that fail to pass this test. Any
picture that passes this test, having survived. the pre-
ceding ordeal, is probably a very good. one.
CoDfirminq forms and echoes are not such absol ute
necessities, but their presence will definite ly streng then
any picture and increase its effectiveness. If you find
them well used in your picture, you may give it a still
higher mark.
: T;he five stages of control that I menti oned ea rlier in
70
this cha pter are all useful in applying the third.phase of
the formula to your work.
1. In the stage of preliminary planning, the
ma in con tours may be mapped out and provision
ma de for the use of confirming forms.
2. During shooting, as I have said, the essen--
tia ls of the picture are permanently established.
At this stage, the principal elements of movement
an d hindrance must be settled. Note in particular
the arrangement of drapery and the placement of
de ta il. for these things are importan t in guiding
movement and creating hindrance.
3. The selection of proofs offers opportunity for
censorship. Proofs in which movement is lackinq
or confused, or is too smug, should be discarded-
unless later stages of control provide means of
sa lva ging them.
4. By "local printing" during projection of the
nega tive considerable contro l may be exercised
over the quality of the contour. Weak contoutB
ma y be strengthened, and contours that are too
smug or mechanical may be made more inter-
esting by means of "losing and finding".
S. Paper Negative, Bromail Transfer, and simi
lor processes also provide much opportunity for
a d justment of contours and emphasis of elements
of Confirming Form.
71
Usinq the Formula
Don't be surprised or dismayed if, a t first, none 01
your pictures come through this searching examina-
tion. The test is a very stringen t one, if yo u have
ap plied it honestly a nd sincerely; an d a picture which
survives it must have very definite eleme nts of excel -
lence.
The formulcr , if it is to benefit you, must be used, and
used. constantly. Put a ll your pictures through the
ordea l. Every time that you look over a bunch of your
proofs- put the formula to work.
Throw pictures away recklessly. Every photographer
saves too many pictures. Without compunction, tear
up your proofs and decimate your prints . And having
gotten rid of them-forget them. Remember that ever y
inferior picture that you discard rais es the averagp
excelle nce of those that remain.
72
E I G HT
Preface to the Pictures
Pictures , if they are good pi ctures , should stand on
their own merits, without benefit of comment.
So it is not wi th the idea of bolstering them up, bu t
simply to show the formula under actua l working con-
ditions , that I incl ude a few remarks on each of the
pictures that follow. I believe tha t the general applica-
tion of the fonnula to the pictures will be so simple and
obvi ous to you, once you ha ve gotten the hang of it.
a s to require little exp lanation. So only in the first
few pictur es do I give de tailed analys is in terms of the
formula. Thereafter I limit my comment on each to
some particular phase or problem of pictorial effect
tha t the picture especially illustrates.
73
The Pictures
Mr.Wu
The Impact is created by DOMINANT MASS of a
larg e an d imposing sort. Ob viously, SENTIMENT Is
the basis of the subject i nterest.
This picture furnishes a good instance of the impor-
tan ce of the fac tor of recognition in the ap preci ation of
sub ject matler. A gr eat dea l of the pl easur e in the
pict ure lies in the humorous contrast be tween the fero-
ciously bristling DOMINANT MASS and the very small
bit of dog flesh il is found to rep resent.
76
77
Girl of Smyrna
The DOMINANT MASS in this picture (as in "Youth")
is strongly supported by the S-CURVE pattern. Here is
the SEX theme, with a considerable tincture of the Ro
mantic theme of WONDER (the lure of far places),
Contrasting with the soft swing of the skirt and body
is the abrupt zig-zag pattern of the darker elements
Note that these darker and weightier elements (hair,
sash, lute and searD are evenly distributed on the two
sides of the picture.
7B
79
MyAunt
DOMINANT MASS Is the ba sis of the Impa ct, which
Is here enhanced by the isolation of the figur e an d the
stron g notes 01contrast.
The piqua nt expression an d the humorous ly sen ti-
menta l theme receive amusing CONFIRMATION In the
lillie e xplosio n of deco ration at the lop of the bet. The
bits of de ta il 01 the shoulders provide moments of HIN
DRANCE and brea k the otherwise 100 smug pyramidal
contour. Note how the little loops of lace er e ECHOED
on the hal end 01the back of the neck.
80
81
The Anatomy Student
DOMINANT MASS of a broad a nd stable pyramidal
type. SEXand SENTIMENT both contribute to the sub-
feet interest.
MOVEMENT is Interesting and varied. The eye moves
swiftly up the outstr etched arm of the woman, tarries
a mome nt over the complexer deta ils of the man's right
hand. tra vels more de libera tel y a long his right ann to
his face. from which the Intensity of his glance throws
the eye 10 the face of the woman. Go ing back 10 the
student's face. the eye Is carried a long the curve of the
left arm to the hand. where the direction of the gesture
once more forces c ttentton to the women's face . TAC
Tll.E QUAUTIES considerably a dd to the eye's expert-
enos , particularly in the contrast be tween the smooth
flesh an d the rough texture of the cool.
82
OJ
Paganini
Here Is DOMINANT MASS that, in spite of its erratic
contour, is firm and compact. To this ere added elements
of the SCURVE.
The erratic contour is in keeping with the sense of
melodrama and the tempera menta l morbidity that are
associated with the name of Pcccnlnl. This angular
contour is developed throughout the picture. Note the
acUV9 zig-zag that brings the eye, by a series of jerks,
up the bow, up the fiddle, up the broken strings, Into
the lace . Nate the brilliant whi les that explode near the
center-the eyes, the two points of the collar, the hand-
kerchief. the series of lights on each knuckle. The mo-
tive of the curled broken strings is RE-ECHOED in the
disorderly wisps of hair. Note how the melodrama is
increased by the extreme amount of dodging.
84
BS
NICOLO
PAGAN IN[
~
Moonlight Madonna
The Impa ct here is ba sed. upon DOMINANT MASS.
Note the stab ility and compa ctness of the cen tra l shape,
and how the rock and jug both cont ribute to the pyra-
mIdal shape.
The universal quality of the subiect interest (SENTI
MENT and WONDER> is enhanced by the passive pos-
ture an d the downca st eye s. This is definitely a n "is"
picture rather than a "does" picture. (See Chapter
Ftve.I Note tha t the Impa ct in this picture gains Its end
by the simple power of its cen tra l fonn ra ther than by
elements of contrast which woul d have been a t vari ance
wi th the quIet emotion of the sublect.
"
87
Parapluie
The Impa ct is furnished by the large ba t-like DOMI
NANTMASS 01 the umbrella . The theme here is SEX.
seasoned with hu mor ah er the French formula . Despite
the very literal a ppurtenance (the umbrella>, the extreme
simplifica tion inclines the treatment toward the .unt-
versal.
The dignified , geometrica l bla ck ma ss of the umbrella
15gi ven a raffish. whImsica l touch by the tiny dangling
strap. Cover this up, and note how important it is to
the picture.
Meteorological nole: The rain was supplied by the
simple expedient of dragging a piece of fine sandpaper
llqhtly across the surface 01 the negativ e.
"
89
Girl of the Hi ghland s
DOMINANT MASS with wide pyr amida l ba se is here
the source of the lrnpcct . The theme is a SENTIMENTAL
one, pri ma rily, but there is a lso a n elem en t of SEX,
The eye MOVES swi ftly up the smoo th flesh 01 the
straight legs. encounters HINDRANCES in the a rra nge -
ment of the dra pe ry about the wa ist. a nd moves on
a ga in to the face a long the simpler lines of the blouse.
The mount a in va lley is ECHOED in the neckline. ond
the firmly pla nted foot finds CONFIRMATION in the
riqht a ngle of Ihp. elbo w.
91
The Moving Finger
Here is Impact based on a gr oup of tria ngles. A light
trian gle wi th its point towa rd you, a nd a da rk trian gle
with Its point away from you-these a re the ma jor ele-
ments . In addition there ar e many other lesser trian gles
interlocked with one another. There is a dark triangle
in the left-hand comer and a lighter one in the riah t-
hand corne r. The face is trian gular ; so a lso are the
hand. the sleeve and the headdress.
92 93
Girl with Corset
The Impact here is based on DOMINANT MASS
combIned with a suggestion of S-CURVE. The theme of
the subject interest is SEX, 10 which SENTIMENT is
a dded by the frankness and ingenuousness of the ex-
press ion.
The eye MOVES swiftly through the smooth passages
of flesh and finds HINDRANCES in the deta il of the
corset. Fur ther hindra nces are provi ded in the TAC-
TILESUGGESTIONS of cont rasting textures- nash con-
tras ted with corse t. an d flesh cont rasted with hair.
94
Pistachio Girl
The S-CURVE is an importa nt foetor In the Impact of
this picture. Sta ble an d firmly based DOMINANT MASS
Is here also .
The freedom an d vitality of the subjec t a re realized
in the MOVEMENT of the eye . which is led through
swinQ1nqcurves and figure eights. The eye follows up
the right leq , is swep t clear acr oss the body by the
curve of the apron: leaps across to the left hand. swtnes
swiftly up the lel t ann, dalli es a moment over the face .
drcles the head an d descends the right arm. From the
right hand it j umps to the curved fold in !he front of the
apron which turns it upward 10 the basket, it circum-
nav1Qoles the ba sket until the left han d swings 11 down-
ward again to the curve of the apr on, whenc e it arri ves,
exhUarated cmd sl1qhlly dizzy, at its starting point.
96 97
Black Magic
Here Is DOMINANT MASS strengt hened by the men-
ace of TRIANGULAR SHAPES. In the ha rsh contrasl
and the spread legs there is a sugges tion in the Impact
of sorneihl nq cla wlike and splde rtsh.
This Is a WONDER theme-the menace and fasci na -
tion of the unknown.
The MOVEMENT is in keeping wit h the character 01
the theme. The eye is jerked. by a seri es of abrupt
zig-zags up to the sta rlling a nd ferocious climax of the
face . Note how the long da ngling drape is ECHOED
by the tiny tendril the! hangs from the left shou lder . a nd
Is further repeated in inve rted fashi on by the upsta nd-
ing wis p of hair.
98
99
Whirlwind
This is a firm, compact DOMINANT MASS, with a
suggestion of the DIAGONAL.
The tigh tness of the lower pa rt of the mass throws
greater emphasis on the free contour of the hair and
the exaltation of the expression. The swirl of the ha ir is,
a sort of CONFI RMING FORM to the sense of release
and wild freedom of which the face tells. The same
thought is RE-ECHOID in the cloud shapes in the back-
ground.
100 101
Taj
The Impact is based on DOMINANT MASS 01 an
extremely cohesive type . Note the absence of loose
'ends ; e very thing is closel y knit and bound together.
This cohes ive qua lity makes MOVEMENT wi thin the
picture particularl y swift and easy. The pri nci pal ele-
ments of HINDRANCE are those afforded by the full
detail ed rendering of the scarf and jar.
102
103
The Glory of War
Less tha n any of the other pictures in this col1ectlon
does this print express a COMMAND TO LOOK. The
IMPACf is dec idedly fa ulty, owing to scattered blacks
and whiles an d the absence of any clea rly de1ned
pattern . But. like a good. press photograph. it is ab le
to hold interest. if seen, by Its shocktnc subject matter.
. And the scattered blacks and whiles. which so vitiate
the Impact. are found to be curiously express ive 01
war 's wan ton destruction of nannal. solid focts e nd
virtues.
104
105
Youth
Here Is DOMINANT MASS. with the SCURVE a s un
important supporting pallern.
The latter pattern-the Line of Beauty of Hoccrfb-c-ts
parllcularly adapted to the theme 01 the SENTIMENTAL
glorification of serene and poised Youth. Despite the
use of the nude, Sentiment is probably a stronger ale
ment of subject interest in this picture than SEX.
106
107
The Warlock
Here are DIAGONAL and DOMINANT MASS, made
more powerfully a rresting by the strong contras t. This
is a WONDER theme, of course-the Sup erncturcl-c-
theworld of demons an d witches.
The impression of speed is built up by the many
converging thrus ts alo ng the diag onal-the broomstick,
the forecrm. the cords in the neck, the flapping drapery.
l OB 109
The Tantric Sorcerer
The Impact is ba sed. on a powerful DOMI NAN T
MASS. made additionall y strong by the sugg es ted DI-
AGONALS. There is here something of the orrestinc
quality of a mat ch kindled in the dark .
Clearly, this is a n example of the WONDER theme
in sub ject ma terial. The emotional quali ty of the theme
is enha nced by the sinister suggesti on of the liqhl inq.
The MOVEMENT i n this pi cture swings the eye in a
sort of spiral-up the hand. dive rted by the crooked
forefinger al ong the lop of the headdress . thence down
in to the face. The eye leaves the pi cture by the jagged
line of the shoulder. a nd is caught and tossed ag ain into
the pictur e space . Ther e is interesting HINDRANCE in
the involved de tail of the scep ter and the complex con-
tour of the headdress. Note how the motive of the curved
fore finger Is ECHOED i n the decoration of the scep ter.
in the drooping maalcches an d in the highlight s on the
brow.
110 II I
The Heretic
The Impa ct here is based on DOMINANT MASS.
which is made additiona lly powerful by the strong con-
trast be tween body an d background.
The theme, owing to its rela tionship to the dark
machinations of witchcraft, may be cla ssed as WON
OER. ' which is he re considerably tinged with SEX
interest.
The darknes s of the surrounding a rea s insi stently
returns the move men t of the eye to the cen tral figure.
The hindrances to this movement are sharp and definite.
the smooth contours of the limbs being repea tedly
hacked across by the intersecting lines of the bonds .
There 15 a strong TACTILE QUALITY in the wa y that
the bonds b1!e into the flesh. Note thai the points where
the tactile suggestion is mos t painful-i.e., the nai ls
throuch the cnkles-ccrs prevented from becoming too
dominant an d literall y revolting by be ing pla ced in
deep shadow.
1I2
113
Cesare Borgia
DOMINANT MASS supported by a DrAGONAL I,
the basis of Impact in this picture,
The Impor tant and characteri stic eleme nt of the wry
curve of the smile finds CONFIRMING FORMS in the
shape of the high-lights in the hai r, in the curl em the
left side of the face; and in the shadowed Jold in the
shirt front.
114
Evening
DOMINANT MASS 01a simpl e pyramidal type. The
theme Is SENTIMENT.
He re all the forms CONfIRM the impression 01 the
wetch t a nd wea riness olt he years - the drooping mouth,
the heavy eye lids . the flaccid, daT\q!inq wisp s 01 hai r.
II'
117
Fragment
SEX is not so much the subject i nterest he re as the
SENTIMENTevoked by bra ve and gallant remnants 01
the past. The tronsformali on of a living body Int o an
apparent fragment of statuary hel ps to bring it nearer
to a universal symbol. By this d rastic mutila tion, all
realistic suqge stions of time. place an d pers ona lity are
wiped out. and nothing rema ins except the etern al mvs-
tery of the fema le body.
The MOVEMENT of eye with in th is pict ure is pe r-
ticularly swift a nd incisive. There Is no hint of a si ng le
vadllating or doubtful thought. The line on the right
side of the torso swings the eye up with a powe rful
crescendo 10 the apex of the broken arm. From here it
moves more delibera tely down the body. Addi llonal
elements of hlndran ce are provided in the TACTILE
suqqestlons of the scars and nleks In the marble .
118 118
Woman of Languedoc
We have here DOMINANT MASS with a definite hint
of the S-CURVE in the swing of the body . SEX is the
theme-not so much in a spec if ic sens a as i n terms of
uni versal fecund ity- rich soil topped by the eternal
woman.
Note the variety of the HINDRANCES-the detail of
the basket, the complexity in the folds of the apron.
There is a prevalence of small triangular motives which
create a spa rkli ng scmti l l c nt eff ect.
120
121
Torse
Here is Impact based on DOMI NANT MASS wi th
soma Suggestion of the DIAGONAL. The theme of the
subject interest is principally SEX.
Increased HINDRANCE is g iven by the un dula tions
of the plas tic lighting which a lso increa ses the TAGrILE
quali ties . Further tactile effects are achieved by the
smal l area of literal detail in the veins of the ha nd and
in the contrast betwee n the texture of the hair an d the
shoulder. Note the manner in which the shape of the
breasts is RE-ECHOED by the shoul ders and the up-
thrust chin.
12?- 123
Portrait of a Young Girl
DOMINANTMASS wi th a suggestion of the DIAG-
Or AL. The theme is more SENTIMENT than sex .
Thera is a TACTILE QUAUTY of extreme softness 01
hair and flesh. This serves as a CONFIRMINGelemen1
to the quiet. contempla li ve exp ressi on.
124 125
Death of Hypatia
The DIAGONAL of the Impact is made increasingly
arresting by the violence of the contrast.
The shocking nature of this contrast is in keeping with
the melodramatic tum taken here by the WONDER and
SEX themes. Note that the quality of contemplative
passivity lifts the picture above the merely episodic,
and makes this momen t much more menacing than it
would have been had the figures been actively en-
gaged in fighting and clawing at each other.
The motive of the crooked. arm of the cowled figure is
R E ~ E C H O E D in the curve of calf. thigh, breast and arm
of the woman.
126
127
Thunder
A compact DOMINANT MASS with strong notes of
contrast is here the basis of the Impact. The theme of
WONDER is carried out in the expression of the face
and in the swirling cloud masses.
These clouds CONFIRM the energy expressed by the
hair. The same theme is expressed in the sweeping
curve of the neck line. Note the element of HINDRANCE
in the detail of drapery on the shoulder. The eye tar -
ries over this for a moment and is then carried swiftly
down the descending curve, up into the face and thence
into the surrounding sky .
128
129
Rope Dancer
Here Is an Impact based on a DI AGONAL suppo rted
by vario us TRIANGLES. The subject the me is SEX. . 10
which is added a suggestion of the WONDER the me
(the elernal my stery and fasci nati on of the circus} The
theme is freed of rea listic implications by be ing trea ted
solely for its decorative va lues.
The convergin g lines of the lea s MOVE the eye swiftly
in to the picture. Aft er meeting and ov ercoming numer-
ous HINDRANCES. the ey e is swung back into the pic-
ture space by the black ma ss of hair. Note the tiny
accent of TACfILE QUALITY which is provided by the
little depression in the nash of the leg where the rib of
the parasol touches II.
130
131
Preparation for the Sabbot
Here is Impact based on DOMINANT MASS, made
explosive and startling by violent conlras t-a gl eaming
white figure se t against a gloomy ba ckground, like a
flame flarinq in the darkness. The re are a lso elements
of the SCORVE. SEX and WONDER both contr ibute to
the subject interest.
The looker is given a sense of the young witch 's im-
pending flight by repeated thrusts along the diagonal
nmning from lower left to upper right. This direction is
emphasized by the witch's lifted leg, by the broomstick,
by the arm of the old be ldame and by the right a rm
of the witch.
132
133
The Vampire
The Impact is here created by the DIAGONAL which
is made additionally arresting by the strong contrast.
This is an example of the WONDER theme-s-the strange
and terrible legend of the Undead.
Note how the wedge shope of the sta ke is ECHOED
in the triangular folds of the grave clothes tha t swathe
the body . There is a violent TACTILEQUALITY in the
penetration of the stake into the body. This is a lso felt,
in a lesser degree, in the contra st between the smoot h
flesh of the shoulder and the rough stone.
134 '35
Flemish Maid
DOMINANT MASS with strong contras t pro vides the
Impact. The subject interest is foun ded. on SENTIMENT
(the charm 01familiar . domestic things).
MOVEMENT around the invo lved contour enclo sed
by the arms. shoulders a nd headdress holds the eye
within the picture. Owing to the placi d, fami lia r impli-
cations of the theme, the movement is ma de slow and
deliberate with ma ny HINDRANCES and tar rying
places introduced by complex bits of detail a nd contour.
136
137
Portrait of an American
Here Is compact DOMINANT MASS wi th stronc ele-
men ts of contrast. The el onga ti on serv es to wi pe out
di stracting realistic details and to ma ke this a ge neral-
ized. uni versal portrall rather tha n a pe rsonalized one.
The decis iven ess and directness of this portrait a re due
to the insistent vertical eleme nts.
Ethnoloqi ca l note : The extreme an d effecti ve length
of this head was att ain ed by emphasizing. through pro-
jection pri ntinq, cha racteristi cs al ready inherent in the
mode l.
138
139
Stamboul
Compact DOMINANT MASS is evident here, together
with a hint of the S-CURVE. SEX is the obvious source
of subject interest, but there is also someth ing of the
WONDERtheme-the romance of far countries.
The outer contour is smooth, but ample HINDRANCES
are provided in the complexity of detail at shou lder
cnd ctrdle. Note how the three lingers of the right hand
ECHO the three daggers.
140
141
Human Relations
Impact is based on DOMINANTMASS supported by
a powerful DIAGONAL.
The disordered hair is really a sort of CONFIRMING
FORM which develops, in its own medium, the sa vag -
ery of the action. Cover the hair with your finger, and
imagine how greatly the picture would lose if the hai r
were slicked down smoothly. The bracelet on the a rm,
by introducing a note of HINDRANCE, adds strength to
the gesture. Note how it is weakened when this element
is covered up.
142 143
Fagin
The DOMINANTMASS of the Impact is strengthened
by numerous .TRIANGLES. The tr iangles serve to
strengthen the glint of menace contained in the eyes.
Here is a crafty, secretive character. So there are no
passages of easy and free MOVEMENT. Instead, the
movement is cramped by continual HINDRANCES that
twist and tum the eye through bits of involved detail.
Note the ECHOING of the motive in the twisted smile--
in the lock of hair by the right eye, and in the pattern
of the headdress.
144
- 14.5
Belphegor
The DOMINANT MASS of the Impact is made more
forceful a nd star tling by the strong contrast. Here is a
WONDER theme - the dark fascination of the sub-
human.
The contour is.very simple, but ample HINDRANCES
are afforded by the lumpy modelling an d by the TAC-
TILE QUAUTIES. These tactile suggestions are all of
a harsh sort and help to build up the bes tiality of the
theme; e.c., the stiff, bristly ha ir and the bulbous fun-
goid mass on the temple . Note the REPETITION of a
bulging crescent-shaped motive---lhe brows, the wings
of the nose, the cheek bones and chin.
146
147
Johan the Mad
The Impact here Is based on DOMINANT MASS
which gains in force by its size and extreme cohesive-
......
This picture (as we have already seen in Chapter
SUO offers a particularly good instance of the use 01
CONFIRMING FORMS. The madness and agony that
appears in the staring eyes and the twisted mouth is
CONFIRMEDin another medium in the tightly twisted
headdress. The theme of madness is further ECHOED
and developed (l) in the diagonal that hacks off the
bottom of the picture, and (2) in the erratic arrangement
of the title.
148 149
FrouFrou
DOMINANT MASS is here supported by a DIAG-
ONAL. The theme is fra nkly SEX, but is presented
llqhtly and delicately.
The contrasting elements of lace Increase the TAG
TILE QUALITIES of the adjoining area of flesh. Note
how the fussy Utile bow serves as a CONFIRMING
FORM to the piquant expression. The expression loses
"acme of its sparkle when the bow is covered up.
15()
lSI
Circe
Here we have a simple pyramidal DOMINANT
MASS with strong notes of contrast.
Two themes contr ibu te to the subject matter; SEX
and WONDER. Note how an increa sed impression of
impersonality and uni verscrltty is gained by the use of
elongation.
There Is a motive of a curiously pointed curve which
is repeatedly ECHOED throughout the pictu re. It ap-
pears in the line of the ja w, in the curve of the breasts,
in the lift of the eyebrows, in the liard, in the hairline
and in the contour of the top of the head. The preva-
lence of this elusive ovoid motive emphasizes the
suggestion of intangibility and unreality.
152
Niccolo Machiavelli
DOMINANT MASS is he re the basis of the Impact.
There is definitely a suggestion of something crouching
and beastlike in the hint of pointed ears on either side
of the headdress. There ts a lso an implication of the
S-CURVE in the line of the headdress and the sweep
of the sleeve.
The whole expressiveness of the picture lies in the
suggestion of evasiveness and craftiness in the side-
long gla nce and the one-sided smile. The twist of this
smile is CONFIRMED in the dangling ribbon and RE-
ECHOED in the cloud form in the upper comer. The
same sardonic motive smirks at you repeatedly in the
curve of the collar. in the veins of the hand, and in the
twisted folds of the sleeve.
154 .
155
Doris
DOMINANT MASS, given stability by the spreading
base, and compactness by joining the dark of the hair
to the dark of the dress.
The theme is SENTIMENT, which is given an added
piquancy of SEXby the challenging glance.
'The flower is in effect a CONFIRMING FORM which
emphasizes the delicacy of the subject material. The
flower also HE-ECHOESthe lacy bits of detail at wrist
and throat.
156
157
The New Race
DOMINANT MASS is noted he re, the strengt h 01
which is increased by the darkness of the sky a nd
land scape background.
SEX Is the theme . touched wi th WONDER at the
mystery of fec undity. Resist an ce to the eye 's move-
ment thrcuch the pic ture is afforded by the roug hly
hewn angles. Note the a lmost geome trica l regula rity of
the area enclosed by the a rms , hands a nd shoulde rs .
This cnculcr qu a l1ty, a lthou gh unfeminine , increases
the impression of ma ssiv e and primi tive streng th. The
heavy breasts find CONFIRMING FORMS in the rolling
hills beyond. The folds of the dress a re ECHOED in the
ravines and de files in the background. the same motive
being cccdn repeated in the sweeping cu rves of the hair.
IS'
IS'
Piety
The Impact is created in this picture by the powerful
DIAGONAL.
Hands are often more truly revealing of character
and emotion than are faces . Hands, therefore, mayan
occasion be legitimate obiects of emotional interest. The
interest here is clearly based on SENTIMENT.
Because of their own comp lexity of structure, the
hands are here presented without extraneous detail. The
moments of RESISTANCE are provided by the hands
themselves-the slight projection of the thumbs, the
rippling contour past the tips of the fingers , the bit of
literal skin texture near the wrisl. Note that the moments
of resistan ce are slight and in no way contradict the
quiet implications of the theme of Piety.
160 161
L'Amour
A strongly contrasted DOMINANT MASS is the basis
of the Impact. To this is added a powe rful suggestion
of the DIAGONAL.
SEX is of course the subject interest, which is here
given additional morbid pungency by the sadistic im-
plications of the theme.
The MOVEMENT is rough and jagged, but is held
closely within the picture . TACTILE QUALITIES are
very evident here, and are derived from the contrast
between the shaggy coat of the beast and the smooth
skin of the girl.
Zoological note: This is not a montage or combina-
tion print. The two figures were actually photographed
together. The only added elements are the clouds,
which were put in by Bromoil.
162 163
Betty
The Impact here is based on DOMINANT MASS,
which is made more compact and cohesive by the
device of raising the shoulder. The subject interest
grows out of SEX shading into SENTIMENT.
The otherwise slick contour provides its element of
RESISTANCE and pleasant hesitation in the detail and
complexity of the comb. Note how the shape of the
comb CONFIRMSthe roundness of the shoulder. Note
also thcrt the detail of the comb is delicately RE-ECHOED
in the tiny curls on either side of the head.
164
165
Pas de Ballet
DOMINANT MASS is here made start ling and poster-
like by contrast and isolation. The subje ct is gi ven a
universal implica tion by the comple te eli mina tion 01a ll
non-essenlia ls a nd by the a bsence of realisti c musc ular
strain.
The eye MOVES up the rhy thmic contour of the legs,
Is caught. held a nd turned back into the pict ure by the
filmy skirt. The skirt a lso serves to introduce a TAC-
TILE element- emph asi zi ng , by cont ra st, the gl ea mi ng
smoothness of the flesh.
166 167
ALaGare
This is DOMINANT MASS of the simplest pyramidal
type. The subject interest, of course, is direct and out-
right SENTIMENT. The harsh DIAGONAL acts as an
effective foil to the softness of the face. The tightly
drown shawl and headdress, by their meagerness,
serve as CONFIRMING FORMS tha t emphasize the
pathos of the expression. The straight pyramidal con-
tourwould prove too dull and uneventful to sustain the
eye's interest, so HINDRANCES are provided in the
rather full rendition of the pattern and folds of the shawl.
168.
169
The Priestess
Here i s a firmly planted DOMINANT MASS combined
with the s..CURVE. Despite the use of the nude, the
theme (as I have previ ous ly poin ted out) is tha t of
WONDER- the cruel, absolute , inscrutable mystery of
the Law. The implications of the theme are born e oul
by the ponderous pyramidal form of the Impa ct.
170
171
The Epicure
Here is DOMINANTMASS with a hint of the DIAG-
ONAL.
The zestful grin sparkles throughout the picture in
individual separated high-light accents. The same
thought is developed in the whimsical contour of the
front of the garmen t.
172
173
Give Us This Day
Three figu res are here joined into a single, pyramid-
ally shaped DOMINANT MASS. TRIANGLESalso con-
tribute to the Impact.
SENTIMENT(the "humble life" theme) touched with
WONDER is the basis of the sub ject interest.
The form of the oar blade is ECHOED in the shape
of the man's collar. Note the rhythmic conformity of the
number of physical elements in the picture: three fig
urea. three apples; one oar, ODe jug.
174 175
Lazarus
We have here DOMINANTMASS and the SCURVE
made emphatic by contrast. The theme, of course, is
WONDER-the mystery of death and man's victory
over U. It is a subject universal in import, and is pre-
sented with as little in the way of physical cppurten-
ances as possible. Two elements alone carry the theme
-the mortal symbol of the skull and Lazarus' gesture
taward the Ugh!.
116.
177
Desert-Born
Here is a DOMINANT MASS of a somewhat pyra-
midal character. The staff brings in suggestions of the
S-CURVE.The subject interest is based on SENTIMENT
-the simple life theme-primitive existence close to
the soil.
The primitive thought is CONFIRMED in the broad-
based, firmly planted. figure and in the harsh intersec-
tion of lights and shadows. The cloud mass is ECHOED
in size and shape by the shadow underneath the figure.
178 179
The Possessed
This picture oHers a particularly good study in the
use of confirming forms and echoes.
The WONDER theme of the terror that howls in bar-
ren places is expressed in the wind tha t sweeps through
this picture. Before it everything writhes and dissolves;
Nature disintegrates into nightmare.
Note the repetition of the twisted spikey theme-the
tree forms on the distant hill, the tufts of hair, the claw-
like fingers, the tattered garment. We fee l the force of
the wind as actual resistance to the movement of the
eye through the picture. The eye tries to move along
the 'contour of the arm, but is repeatedly caught and
carried over to the left of the picture.
180 181
Napoleon
Towerinq DOMINANT MASS, brood-based and
stahle, is made more cohesi ve a nd unified. by the use
of the long coat.
The rolling masses of clouds ser ve as CONFIRMING
FORMS to the lowered brow.
Persona lity note: The Little Corporal was interpre ted.
for this picture by the eminent cha ra cter actor. Peter
wrre. .
182
183
Tranquility
Here is a DIAGONAL with a single strong note of
contrast . The subject theme is obviously SENTIMENT.
Note the mony CONFIRMING FORMS of the atmos-
phere of quiet and nocturnal revery. All shapes seem
a ffected by the lassitude and lcncour of the summer
nig ht. The moon hangs low. as if unable 10 struggle
higher in the hea vens. The two figures ben d their heads
drea mily, the bra nches bend low, even the nec k of the
iug bends in response.
184
185
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