Friday, July 16, 2010

Black & White

On a trip to Singapore, one day in a public park I came upon what looked to be a kind of yard sale spread of goods, old and new, watched over by a wrinkled grandmother. This kind of thing will stop me every time, and I happily spent an hour looking through the old woman’s collection. There were three or four curiosities that looked interesting, but prices were high, and I had to pass on all but a carved teak water buffalo, and a handful of what impressed me as beautifully composed photographs of children from the 1940s. Not unusual for the place, the children in the photographs are all of ethnic Chinese families. Two of the photos are embossed with the name of long gone photography studios: The Kong Studio and the Ling Tong Studio, both probably active in 1940s Singapore.

The four photographs here are examples of how beautiful black and white photography can become in the delicate handling of light and shadow.

Impossible to know anything concrete about the pictures or the children in them, but it is fairly obvious that the children in the group pictures are all siblings. The faces in each of the first three show similarities that lead one to think that they are five brothers, four and then three sisters.

The photo of the three girls seated on two hassocks is quite special. The faces are pretty near what you might call exquisite.

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Oak Hill, Florida, United States
A longtime expat relearning the footwork of life in America