Laurence Tom is one of the pastors at Philadelphia’s Chinese Christian Church and Center. Increasingly, although he might try to deny it, he’s becoming kind of a big deal by virtue of his community organizing work and by doing things like presenting at the Justice Conference. He is also a most excellent neighbor and friend.
Shooting headshots for someone that I know well gives some interesting insights into how we all see photographs. I know Laurence first and foremost as a funny, easy-going, friendly, regular guy who borrows the lawnmower, watches my kids, and plays with his kids on the sidewalk. People who are seeing his headshot might see him as an intellectual, a leader, an authority. Do we see the same person in the same photograph?
We almost have to, because it is the same person. The photograph of course represents the person’s image, but how we see that image, no matter what the photograph, comes largely from what we know of the subject, or what we are expecting from the subject. Perhaps a photograph can guide those expectations to a certain extent (which is why having a good headshot can be very important), but we can’t deny the viewer’s role in determining the meaning of an image.
I love that one….
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