Where Risa Sleeps

Something drew me to this photo from the moment that I saw it. Something about Risa, 15, from Kyoto, Japan peaked my interest.

The compositional elements of this photo are interesting. The room seems to work as an establishing shot.The rule of thirds stands out because there seem to be three main objects sitting next to each other on the floor: the flowers, the pillow, and the fan. There seems to be balance with the objects as well. The angle that this picture was taken is also very interesting because we are able to see the simple intricacies of the room. I know that “simple intricacies” might seem like an oxy moron, but I can’t think of a better way to describe what I am seeing. The architecture of the room is so simple, but the little intricacies, like the lines on the floor, the panels on the door, and the board going across the ceiling make you appreciate the work that went into creating the space.

I love how it is paired with the intricacy of Risa’s simple makeup, clothes, and headband. These details seem so small, but they make sure a difference in her face. When I look at her face, I can’t help but wonder what is underneath the makeup – and when I look at her room, I can’t help but wonder what kind of person Risa is. In both cases, I am left feeling like I want to know more. And that has to do with the composition of the photographs.

I feel like the photographer only captured a certain side of Risa, who, in the photo, looks like a well-behaved, cultured, Japanese citizen. I am wondering whether or not the photographer wanted to capture Risa in that light, or if Risa’s family chose to dress her in that way. Who wanted Risa to be portrayed in such a formal light? Well, if the family thought that the audience of the photographs was going to be filled with important people, then they might want to make sure that Risa looks her best. I know that a part of Japanese culture involves “face” and “saving face” so maybe that cultural element plays a role in Risa’s dress and makeup.

I feel happy and sad when I look at these pictures. I am happy that Risa looks like a beautiful, well-off girl, but I feel sad that her room is so simple. We are groomed to think that the more “things” a person has, the better life that they have – so my first thought is that I wish that Risa had more. I wonder if she wants more. Then I have to stop and realize that Japanese culture values simplicity over materialistic decadence. Maybe that is another point of the photograph and how it fits into the rest of the collection. Maybe the photographer wanted to force us to put everything in context before we push our own values on these children. Before we judge their lives as “good” or “bad” we have to think about what isn’t being photographed. Who their family is. What the child’s parents do, if the child has living parents at all, etc.

After all, a child is more then where they sleep. Right?




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