Raven MacabreAimee IV American Beauty (2009)

I can’t remember who said it but a noted photographer–doubtlessly riffing along the lines of Warhol’s infamous 15 minutes assertion–claimed that in the future everyone will take one good photo in their lifetime.

This is Raven Macabre’s one ‘good’ photo.

I use the scare quotes because Macabre is one of those image makers whose work I just freaking detest–super-saturated colors limited to aggressive strip club chromatic palates, completely bereft of even the vaguest understanding of compositional logic (to wit: Macabre treats #skinnyframebullshit as his default orientation, earning my wrath) and despite being a ‘visual’ artist employing a text-only watermark (I pointedly opted to find a version of the image that excluded the watermark).

All that said: there is something about this image. It’s digital–so there’s some color exchange between the bright light flooding in and the area between Aimee’s right shoulder and the window; but this is a sublime exposure given the scene–yes, her left eye is a little too dark but a negative shot at the same settings would’ve rendered just enough of a kiss of extra latitude to distinguish the white from the pupil.

The slight tilt of her head and the play of the light accentuates the perfect classical shape of her face and flouts the conventional wisdom that when both a subjects head and shoulders are square to the lens, the resulting affect is to render the person as if they were dead.

The skin tone skews a little to yellow and magenta but were you to get in there and edit it, you’d have to be careful about losing some of the grace notes (i.e. the darker pink of her right nipple against the lighter pink of her areola and the slight reddening around her vulva indicating less than eight hours from her last depilatory session).

In summary: there’s no reason this should be vertically composed and it breaks a number of rules but the moment it captures is authentically unmediated enough that the stillness of it makes it a surprising editing choice for an image maker who seems desensitized to anything that isn’t loud and obvious.

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