A Critique of “Where the Children Sleep”

Looking through “Where the Children Sleep,” I found many of the images very compelling. Even though each photograph told its own story, together the contrast in the living situations of children throughout the world was breath taking. The author, James Mollison was truly able to capture the differences in each of the cultures and situations the children live in. By using good, well-planned photographic technique he connected each child to his or her home. One photograph that was particularly striking to me was photograph 21 of 12 year old Lamine from Bounkiling village, Senegal.

The photograph of this young boy’s bedroom tells the viewer a lot about him. There is very little and what is there appears dirty and old. It is very clear that he survives on the bare minimum. The photographer has balanced the shot by placing the corner of the wall along the right third and the small bookshelf along the left third. The bookshelf and what appear to be large writing tablets reveal that he may be learning to read and write, an idea that seems out of place given the bareness of his room. The photograph has good depth that is created by the light in the foreground and the darker corner of the room. The angles of the walls and beds also give the image a nice balance that is pleasing to look at. The light shining in from the right side of the frame gives the viewer an idea of what the surroundings outside of the shot may be like. There is most likely a large door leading to the outside where it is very sunny.

The second photograph showing the boy himself supports the idea that he survives on the bare minimum and really has to work in order to survive. He is shown with sweat dripping down his chest and with a large field tool in his hand. His stance shows that despite how little he has, he is willing to work hard. His shorts reflect the same tattered and old appearance of the sheets on his bed. The two pictures work together to reveal the boy’s circumstance and even his outlook on that circumstance.

-AG

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