Roy DeCarava’s Light

Cafe Seating

Cafe Seating

There are moments when you realize you have absorbed an image, or have absorbed an understanding of the light in an image. When I took the shot above, it was with Roy DeCarava’s table in mind. His use of light and his rich dark tones have always captivated me, and having internalized them, they often inform how I see and capture light. DeCarava’s use of the strong horizontal line, particularly in this image, is also an aspect of some of his work that speaks to me (in similar ways, contemporary photographer Brendan Kelly’s work also inspires). That said, my image doesn’t have the same pathos expressed in DeCarava’s photo with its record of absence: the empty coat hanging on the back of the chair, the meal eaten, the dishes stacked. As someone just beginning the photographic journey, my image is of a plateless table anticipating the coming meal, anticipating the presence of the person yet to eat. And that that light will always be DeCarava’s light.


Roy DeCarava, 1952

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