Missing Person - Doug Johnson

Recent POTWs have explored a couple of methods for creating an interesting photograph. The simplest way is to find an interesting subject and take its picture! ;-) Another, more challenging approach, is to build an interesting storyline from a collection of seemingly mundane subjects.

A third variation contains, at first glance, a handful of seemingly unremarkable objects. Viewed more closely, these objects become telltale artifacts alluding to some past or future event. The viewer gets to play detective or archeologist, using these clues to create their own narrative about the missing subject and what they were doing (or going to do). Who are they? Where are they now? What do they look like? Are they OK?

I only have a few of these "missing person" images because they're hard to find and even harder to construct -- striking just the right balance between too few clues (making the scene nonsensical) and too many (making the scene too obvious). Here are two of my favorites. I think they're both visually strong and have just the right touch of mystery.

The first shows handcuffs and benches in a holding cell at a campus police station. Who will be the next detainee? What's the charge (maybe a simple misdemeanor or something far worse)?

The second shows chairs, microphones and a few discarded hats following a school graduation. I especially like the row of microphones. Why are there so many? Why are they packed cheek by jowl? Why are two of the 16 foam covers red? Why are the cords laying right where the speakers (or singers or whomever) will trip over them?

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