Photo Focus: Swapan Parekh’s Untitled

Welcome to Photo Focus, where I examine a single photograph. These short essay’s will give a greater insight into the individual image beyond its context within a group of photographs. Furthermore, this is inspired by an idea a professor of mine always discussed in graduate school. He would talk about what about the photograph brought the viewer in and kept his or her attention. I discuss what personally draws me to the particular photograph and hope that that gives you an entrance as well.


I always like off the wall photographs. A collection of work that has an interesting thread. You have to think to connect the photographs in your mind. In his body of work, Between Me and I, Swapan Parekh uses this idea of the loose thread to hold his work together. In many of the photographs the viewer’s vision is obscured by something, be it a sheet or a simple string.

Udaipur has the most street dogs of any city I have visited in India. There is a dog near where I am living who is aggressive and he makes me wary of all the dogs, so I thought I would choose a photograph with a dog, presumable a street dog. The photograph above is filled by a grey concrete wall. The small amount of ground at the bottom of the image is dominated by the same grey concrete and a hint of dark muddy soil. The photograph is taken at  a slightly skewed angle, creating diagonal line with the edge of the structure. On the right side of the photograph, there is a sliver of information beyond the wall. A grey concrete sidewalk goes into the distance and another structure is slightly visible. To the right of the walkway is an area filled with broken concrete and black earth. In the top center of the photograph, there is a hole in the concrete wall. Yellow, orange, and green cords hang out of the hole. The orange and green cords fall to the ground and circle back on themselves. Two yellow cords are attached to something outside the frame, so they stretch to the top left hand corner of the image. Just to the left of the green and orange cords is a dog. His body is cut in half by the bottom edge of the photograph. He is black, brown, and white with pointy ears and a pointed snout. He is typical of dogs in India. His head is turned to the left and he looks at something outside the frame.

The photograph is dominated by lines. The lines of the structure, the cords coming out of the wall, as well as, two metal plates in teh right edge of the building, one is horizontal and the other is diagonal. There is also the leading line of the path that goes into the sliver of background. Furthermore, the dog’s gaze creates an implied line of vision leading the viewer’s eyes  out of the photograph. The structure in the background creates even more horizontal lines through its construction. Color also plays an important role in the success of this photograph. All the grey creates a neutral background, causing the colored cords and the dark colors of the dog to stand out.

Ultimately the dominant aspect of the wall creates a visual barrier. However, this barrier causes the viewer to focus on mundane things within the frame. In the end, there is always an obstruction between the me and the I. Two ways of seeing the self and the mundane does make up the bulk of our daily lives, so why not give it a closer look.


By |2016-11-11T05:26:45-05:00May 13th, 2016|Photo Focus|0 Comments

About the Author:

Betsy Williamson is an assistant professor of art in the state of New Mexico. Before coming to New Mexico for this job she was an adjunct professor throughout Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas, teaching photography and art appreciation. Between September 2015 and May 2017, she took a break from teaching to pursue art, research and life in India. Now she is back to teaching and part-timing it in India.

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