Review Blog

Sep 12 2017

Theatre of life: photographic portraits by Alex Frayne

cover image

Wakefield Press, 2017. ISBN 9781743054949
(Age: Secondary - Adult) Highly recommended. This is a fascinating book. The collection of photographs truly capture the 'theatre of life' - with expressions, fleeting moments, iconic scenes, and portraits that make you gaze again at the character expressed in the lines and shadows. The moments of light and shade, the framing of a particular shot, make you see the beauty or the uniqueness of each picture. I especially loved the intimacy of the mother and daughter at the bus stop, the woman descending the stairs, the blindfolded lady in brilliant yellow holding a chicken in her arms, - so many unique glimpses of life. The character portraits are stunning - with emotions etched in wrinkles or the particular slant of the head, and the look in their eyes, from the sad poignancy of 'Intersex Angel' to the visionary thoughts of Samak Fallah Aka 'The Thinker', the humour and warm of The Rockbusters, and the curiosity and wonder of the child Alice - all draw you in to contemplate the individual people and their lives.
When you close the book, some images will remain with you. For me it was the shock of the scene in 'The System' of an amputee lying face down on concrete next to a plastic bowl, with a naive idyllic scene painted on the locked cupboard behind him. Other scenes are rediscovered when you return and open the book again.
These aren't staged photographs, they are glimpses of people living their lives, all around the world. Each is accompanied by a few notes - some about the person or context, adding further detail or sharing an added insight, others are notes about the camera and techniques employed, revealing some of the magic and the craft of photography. The book will be of interest to the artist and the photographer, and to people who love stories - for there are so many amazing stories expressed in those faces, one can only gaze and imagine.
In schools I can imagine this book being a source of inspiration for both Art and photography classes as well as for English creative writing.
Helen Eddy

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