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Critique of a Photographer, Tom Williams Essay


The peculiar feature of any photo is that for one person, a photo may present much information and evoke unbelievable feelings, and for another person, the same photo can mean nothing. Each photographer has its own style and has a habit to concentrate on one and the same details.

Tom Williams is one of those photographers, who may underline the details, which help to comprehend this world in absolutely other ways and find out something new in ordinary things. His collection of Redfern-Waterloo Housing is really amazing, because the beauty of all Williams’ photos is taken from every day life of ordinary people, with their own problems and joys.

Tom Williams is a photographer from Sydney. He participated in numerous festivals, and one of the most famous was FotoFreo Photography Festival in Fremantle (CCP Documentary Photography Award, 2009). Without any doubts, his works are known in the whole of Australia and even in some states of America.

This photographer perfectly speaks English and Spanish, and the knowledge of the international languages allows him to describe his works and explain what he wants to underline in each of his works. The major point is that the works of Tom Williams can be found in both private and public collections, this is why the popularity of his works raises day by day, and, it is quite possible that one day the name of Tom Williams will be famous among people of different nations and races.

There are several photo collections of Williams: King Cross, Guatemala City Oasis, La Santa Muerte, and some others. This time, we will talk about his Redfern-Waterloo Housing. It is a public housing estate, a home for more than 9,000 people of different race, ethnicity, and with various cultural backgrounds (CCP Documented Award, 2009).

The photos from this collection are black-and-white. The choice of such colours may be explained in different ways: for example, Williams wants to underline that our life was originated from two colours only; or, he wants to provide viewers with a chance to concentrate on people on these photos and their souls, but not distract them by means of bright colours. Anyway, the chosen format is just perfect: one or two people, certain background, some mystery, and lots of opportunities to imagine.

The photos of the Redfern-Waterloo housing estate prove that it is something more than just a house; it is a story of human lives, and maybe, Tom Williams decides to underline such unfair poverty of its inhabitants by black-and-white photos, which focus on little details like muscles, wrinkles, sadness or hope in people’s eyes, and touches. This is why the connection between pictures and emotions becomes more considerable in Tom Williams’ works and the ideas of the images may be interpreted in rather different ways.

The photo of Tony ‘Finger’ Randal, the Vietnam War veteran, is the first picture under consideration. It was taken in 2007. Black-and-white photo presents an adult man, who strains his muscles in order to demonstrate his physical abilities and the results of being at war for four years.

Even if he is not too young, he shows a good example of how the body should look like. The point is that this person is dying of emphysema, but still, he does not forget about hope, power, and desire to live.

There is no furniture in his room, maybe, there is a bad near his feet, but we cannot see it, and only our imagination helps to colour the truth. Such settings of the photo prove that the person is lonely. Light from the window tells that there is life outside the doors; however, this man is alone in this room, with his body, memories, and hopes.

Another photo under analysis is the image of Cyndelle Georgetown. This woman is represented with a phone in her hands. Her eyes are sad, it makes the viewer think that she is calling to a person, she cares too much. In fact, she has just talked to her mother, who is now responsible for Cyndelle’s daughter until she tries to loss her addiction to drug “ice”. The emotions of a person on the picture can be easily transferred to the viewer: responsibility, loss, hope, and compassion.

The use of black-and-white may underline one simple fact that there are no other colours for this woman until she meets a person, she talks to the phone. Against the background, there is a house and the yard: they symbolize all the things, which surround the woman. For her, it does not matter what is behind. Her eyes look ahead, and she has to find powers to cope with all challenges and achieve the desirable goal – to be in the place, where her mom, daughter, and heart.

The last photo for analysis is Kristal and Derek’s images. They are taken in 2007 in Waterloo. The images of these people impress me most of all. Kristal and Derek touch each other in the way to demonstrate their care about each other, their trust to each other, their devotion, and the thoughts, which disturb them.

Looking at their faces, it is possible to imagine that they have already survived something together and now, they are grateful to each other. The point is that these man and woman are passing treatment for drug addiction. To my mind, the photographer pays certain attention to their eyes – a woman is waiting for something and hopes for better, and a man looks confident and a bit confused, as he comprehends that lots of things have to be done soon in order to improve this life.

There is nothing behind them, as their past life was full of drugs and numerous addictions. They look ahead and wait for positive changes. I think that such emotions and ideas in reference to simple photos of ordinary people may be caused only due to the use of black-and-white colours, which provide with a chance to think and dream.

The photos by Tom Williams are short histories of life of different people. Our world is impossible without some problems, difficulties, and desires to improve own future. People should have a dream, and Mr. Williams makes an attempt to provide all these people with a chance to forget their past and expect better future, without forgetting about the present.

Not each photograph may create such masterpieces, and Tom Williams demonstrates the best qualities of professionals in the sphere of photography. In order to present much more interesting pieces of work, captivating photos, and unbelievable images, it is high time to develop the art of photography and follow the examples, provided by Tom Williams.

Reference List

CCP Documentary Photography Award. (2009). Web.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Critique of a Photographer, Tom Williams." May 12, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/critique-of-a-photographer-tom-williams/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Critique of a Photographer, Tom Williams'. 12 May.

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