Charles Traub’s portrait photographs of everyday people in the 70s show a jarring amount of honesty. The colors, lighting, and angles in the photographs created compositions that are whimsical and evocative, however, the candid nature of the photographs exposed much more in a fleeting glance or a toothy smile than any posed image could. Out of all the insightful things that Traub said during the night, I really liked his simple approach when taking his images, to click the camera at the moment that he found appropriate. Instead of seeking to create just a beautiful image, he strives to capture the right moment, the moment that emulates that person’s character. Although his subjects are strangers, Traub found that the portraits were candid moments, but not casual moments: “a portrait should not only be an image but an oracle one questions, and that the photographer’s aim should be a profound likeness, which physically and morally predicts the subject’s entire future.” (Andre Breton)
When Traub analyzed his photography within the context of sociology, the notion of the world as a stage really rang true within the context of his photography. Traub captures images of everyday life — although this stage is comfortable and it suits each of us, we create a show for others, putting on a mask of what you expect of yourself, and what you expect that others expect of you. So when you see a candid image of yourself that you like, you may be delighted to see that the image has captured the projected person that you wish to be. But when a candid image does not depict the desired projection, does this image depict your true self or juxtapose the image that you wish to create? Which is more important? Is one self less desirable? These are some of the sociological questions that popped into my mind after seeing, analyzing, and experiencing Traub’s beautifully playful photographs.