The Outdoor Couch

These photo stories raise a lot of questions for me, especially the photos from “Where Children Sleep.” For me I am saddened by most of the photos in this story. I am also shocked at how many children from many different countries sleep on the floor or something other than a mattress. I find great comfort in my bed so I could not imagine sleeping somewhere else at night. When scrolling through the photo story I was reminded of the scene when Michael Orr sees his room for the first time in the movie “The Blind Side.” His response to seeing his bed is “I’ve never had one before.”
The author/photographer stated that his intended audience was children. The purpose of this piece is to show children how other children live around the world through the frames of their bedroom, more specifically their beds (literal and makeshift). I believe that the image of their bed next to the close up picture of the child that lives there brings a lot of raw emotion to the story. Placing the photos side by side and only revealing the most general information about the child allows the reader/viewer to create their own story by what they see in the image.
I want to concentrate on image number 9 from “Where Children Sleep.” The author tells us that the boy in the photograph is nine years old and is from Brazil. The photos reveal much more than that. The place in which this child sleeps is a couch…outside. The couch is ripped and broken. A shack made of metal and wood scraps stands behind the couch. Is this where the boy lives? Why does he not sleep indoors? Is the couch his only possession? This photo evokes many questions for me.
The picture of the couch is the establishing shot because it is what tells the story of this little boy. The picture of the boy is the portrait shot because it gives a face to the character who lives in the establishing shot. The key compositional elements of the image are background and framing. The couch is in the middle of the foreground of the picture. The shack of a house stands in the background, adding some context to the story. This shack and the blue tarp the couch sits on naturally frame the couch. The couch is where the child sleeps, so that is what the author wants to draw your eye towards. I didn’t really notice the tarps or wooden shack the first time I viewed the photo. My first reaction was “I can’t believe this child sleeps on a dirty couch” and my second reaction was “oh my gosh he sleeps outside!” This could also be classified as a pattern, or maybe the opposite of pattern. You don’t usually see a child sleeping on a couch, or outside. This Brazilian boy does both. He breaks the pattern for a normal bedroom. His lacks shelter which makes him stand out among the rest of the children in this story.

-RLB

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