During our discussion about “The Crawlers,” I mentioned that I was reminded of a photo I took while I was in Peru about a man in a doorway. I thought I would share that photo and expand on some of my thoughts.
Disclaimer: There is no intentionality in my photo other than I was taking pictures whenever I saw that specific shade of blue. I might have had a fleeting thought about framing the man in the doorway but in all honesty, I really wanted a picture of the blue door.
We had a brief discussion in class about the door frame of “The Crawlers” image. Perhaps I am reading into this one image, and images like it, more than I should, but I can’t seem to shake the liminality of a photo taken on a doorstep. In fact, when I was first learning the word liminal, a doorstep or a threshold was used as an example of a liminal space. But what does it mean that these people occupy and are pictured in this liminality?
I find the importance of the liminal space in the spaces around it, the spaces that create the liminality. In the case of doorways, there are two spaces, each side of the door. For these street life photographs, there is specifically the street and whatever space is behind the door. Again, perhaps I am reading into this doorway more significance than actually exists. I have no way of knowing that the man in my photograph is sitting in a doorway for any reason other than he needed a place to sit. However, Thompson staged “The Crawlers” and while he might have chosen a random doorway, he stages it such that there is meaning. We spoke in class of Scotty as a deterioration of the domestic woman. Her position in the liminal space between the street and a domestic sphere, implied by the domestic objects on the stoop, strengthens that reading.
I don’t think that my picture can have such a reading of liminal space. However, I do find it interesting that there is such a use of the liminal space of doorways in photography. I can’t even suppose what that means.
Side note: I did a Google Image search for “Street Life” and “Street People.” The similarity between Thomson’s street life images and more modern street life images is striking. Here are two that caught my eye.