WHEN I GROW UP



Dolls and mannequins fascinate me. They're so surreal, so weird. There's absolutely no sense of scale or age: tiny dolls a hand-span high can be hypersexualized, with huge breasts, tiny waists and long, slender legs, while at the same time there are fat little "baby" dolls the same size as a real baby. At vide-greniers, they are often thrown togrther in the most promiscuous and improbable ways. Then there are the expressions on their faces...

The expressions on the faces are what make this picture for me. The "younger" doll looks as if she has been at the controlled substances: you get the feeling that if there was a button in her tummy you could press to make her talk, she'd say, "Well, yeah, I dunno, man." The "older" mannequin, on the other hand (looks 'armless) is sufficiently uptight that she would make a cartoon librarian -- the sort with horn-rimmed glasses, sensible shoes, a severe expression and her hair in a bun -- resemble a Loose Woman. She'd probably be at home in one of those 1930s German documentaries glorifying Aryan Womanhood. 

Now, of course, dolls and mannequins don't have personalities. But the people who create them do. The people who create them also have varying degrees of competence. How far are the facial expressions the results of intent, competence and (let's be generous) a sense of humour? 

It's a snapshot. Nothing more. It might be better if I'd moved to the left a bit so you could see the "younger" doll's other leg. But that would have meant a crotch shot. Was it some sort of deeply ingrained sensibility which made me shoot it the way I did? Damned if I know. It is however a good example of "see it and shoot it", and even mediocre shots can help us refine our skills: getting the focus and exposure right, reasonably quickly. "Reasonably quickly"? Yes, The dolls are unlikely to go anywhere in a hurry, but you still look like a fool if you spend several minutes fiddling with the camera. Which was, incidentally, a Nikon Df with a 55/2.8 Micro Nikkor: the M9 was in for repair.

This is (I hope) the first in an intermittent series called "Pictures for the Day": a photograph and a brief explanation of the background and (if any) the technical considerations.


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Words and picture copyright Roger Hicks 2017