Making An Image

The photos of a group of people generally tell their storied lives, and they live on in photo albums. Much of the photographs in the Louis Armstrong House Museum archives are of the man himself, but an additional amount of photographs are of his extended family and friends. These photos, like any other documentary practice, bring alive those individuals cropped inside the photo albums and on strips of Polaroids taped and glued along the pages.

In particular, there’s one image of a man that I’ve found myself going back to over and over. I don’t know anything of him, but his portrait says something. In the photo, his head is tipped to the side, hat hanging and pivoting of the right side of his head. The photo is worn down by time, and that’s apparent from the rips on the papered frame that has also absorbed some moisture.

I assume the photo is older than the others I’ve seen because it’s printed in a sepia style. And although void of color, the tone in his skin are rich under the grains of the old framed image.

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But still, I don’t know these folks but everything in the world makes me want to tell their story.

Another set of images in black and white project an entire different narrative of these people. One set of the images show a group of children, they’re in front of their home and I presume the weather is colder in temperature because their bundled up in coats, heads wrapped, and ears covered. Notably, the door they stand in front of must be their home because it becomes a running motif in a number of the images in the collection of photographs.

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Overall, this set of images tell something about the power of image making and what it does. Despite me not knowing anything about these people, but only the man whose archives they were found in, it’s a careful assumption that the lives they lived were good because he too was good man.

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