The Gaze

I shot this image during a walk around the little town of Taylor, TX.   There wasn't anything in particular that I was looking to photograph on this outing.  Primarily, I was testing a recent acquisition - a Mamiya M645 medium format camera.  The old buildings found in abundance in downtown Taylor make great subjects for black and white film shooting on a sunny Texas afternoon.

While walking the sidewalks, I came across this mannequin head in a window and I was compelled to stop and take a photo.  The shot was carefully composed to avoid glare and include the reflections of the old buildings.  I liked how this turned out and I received a number of nice comments about it when I shared it in my Flickr photostream.  One of my friends asked what motivated me to stop and get this shot.  That's a good question.  

Usually, I'll try to include a few details about my shots when I post them to Flickr and this time I was a little lacking in that.  Just busy, I suppose.  In any event, I thought I'd share some of my thoughts behind this image now.  The main reason that I stopped is that I'm attracted to things that look out of place. This head certainly did.  It was was oddly present alone in a window with no context as to why it was there. Someone placed the head such that it appears to gaze out into the town. This certainly seems deliberate. Was it and if so, why?  Her look is very lifelike.  Some people have commented that she looks a little creepy.  I don't really get that myself.  

But what is she staring at?  Is it something in the here and now or is she looking back in time, perhaps to a period when Taylor's downtown was more prosperous and bustling with activity?  Is she there merely to observe, simply watching the world change and pass her by?  Is it a look of hope or sadness? What has she seen already and what sights await her as time marches on?

Ah, a penny for your thoughts, young lady.