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An illustration of the manipulation of symbols.

After yesterday’s meeting with some photographer artists I saw this scene in a familiar store window. The mannequins have been there for months and Robert, one of my friends who was at the Looney Bean coffee shop with us, posted a picture of it on our Bend photo MeetUp web site last month. On my first outing last week with my new camera, a Samsung NX200, I did a few test shots of this scene, but today with a whole week’s experience and a little more time it seemed appropriate to give it another look. The scene has plenty of potential for a variety of photos, but I noticed the American flag in the background and was reminded of Robert Frank and his use of American flags.

An American flag sheds stars to the astonishment of a mannequin.

An American flag sheds stars to the astonishment of a girlikin-mannequin.

I noticed the falling stars which are reflections of Christmas lights wrapped around a tree out in front of the store window. I moved the camera around until the stars appeared to be emanating from the star field on the flag. A man, actually me, is seen watching, reflected between the girl and the falling stars. The reason this works better for me than other pictures of this scene is because the falling stars and the staring man give something for the mannequin to be relating to and to be astonished about. The other pictures leave the viewer wondering why the girl is so surprised.

My concern with my Bend photographer friends.

This new arrangement takes some seemingly unrelated symbolic items and blends them into a single coherent statement. One might argue that the statement is contrived and worse that it is trivial, but it does illustrate a point that I have been trying to make to these Bend photographers. When you take a photograph of something, make a statement about what is in front of the lens by manipulating the symbols to form a coherent whole. Ideally nothing is left out of the statement and there are no extraneous inclusions either. This photo may be a little silly, but it does bring a feeling of mirror-neuron surprise, and an intellectual wonderment at what’s happening with the Christmas stars seeming to fall from the field of American national flag stars. Perhaps Robert would say, “Frankly my dear, I do give a damn.”

A photograph should open up a new vision of what’s there to be seen all along.