Seventh Post: Historic Influences

who / where / when: Frederick Sommer, Arizona, 1931.

what: In the first photo there is rule of thirds, the head and intestines are on the sides of the photo rather than directly in the center.  The background is simple so your eye completely goes to the chicken.  The lines from the intestines lead you up to the face of the chicken.  I like the simple background because it adds to the texture of the chicken’s skin.  In the second photo, the background is the same basically except there is some liquid at the top.  I think this makes for a more interesting after photo because it shows more of the process.  Again, the simple background adds to the texture of the chicken’s body.  In this photo, the head and neck are dead center, you know you’re supposed to be looking at it.

why: Sommer’s interest in still life came from this “refuse” box at his local Piggly Wiggly.  At that point, the butcher at the grocery store would cut the chicken all up for you and then keep a box of all of the parts no one wanted.  Apparently, Sommer would take these parts and photograph them.  I think it’s really documenting that point in time. Today, Piggly Wiggly’s don’t even have a butcher, and they definitely don’t do all of the dirty work of cleaning up a chicken for a customer.  I also think Sommer wanted to show the sort of “before” of what people were eating.  When you get a chicken you just see it as food, but when you look at what you took off of it (head, innards, etc) it’s almost disturbing.

how: This is film photography.  I couldn’t find too much of what he used or how he did it, but the shot is pretty simple.  He definitely had extra lighting and just laid everything out on a table.  I can’t really think of anything that is special about still life in this case.

links: Here is a link to Sommer’s gallery and biography.


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