From The Archive: Sadness On Her Face

Jon Witsell's Photograph Of A Woman Titled Sadness On Her Face

~ Click To Enlarge ~

Sadness On Her Face is a photo of a woman I once knew. She was a neighbor, and we would go out drinking often. But underlying her normal outgoing and strong personality, ever so rarely I would sense a hint of sadness, a wearing-down. It was never something you could grasp looking head-on. But if you paid close attention, you might catch it as her words in a sentence trailed off, or in a slightly too-long-held look as she glanced out a window. She was a stunningly beautiful African-American woman, and I photographed her a lot. I had quite a crush on her–alas, it wasn’t reciprocated. As I look back at those images, they are mostly just snapshots of her across a bar table or in a restaurant. But this photo is different.

Technically it’s a wreck. It’s massively underexposed, hence little detail—and no focus point to speak of. The composition shows no real rhyme or reason. But the camera caught that briefest moment of sadness I could sometimes feel. I knew it the moment I saw the negative. The camera can do that—it can snatch out a slice of truth about a person that you aren’t usually privy to; it can snatch out a slice of time that the eye normally would miss.

I moved out of that neighborhood and never saw her again. I wonder if she is happy.

Sadness On Her Face.

This entry was posted in From The Archive, Portraiture.