San Francisco’s famed Julia Morgan Ballroom – a study in timeless architectural beauty and unassailable elegance – is the backdrop for this image. Last year, I was generously invited to use this opulent ballroom as the site for a photo project, in which I recreated the unique glamor of Old Hollywood.

Here, a model in period wardrobe peers out the window, her vision assisted by the use of Galilean binoculars.

Powerful images engender an enduring effect not just because of their sheer technical mastery or absolute beauty, but more so because the photograph tells a story.

A pretty model might be nice or interesting for a viewer to look at, but unless something about her compels the viewer to ask questions – in this case, “What is she searching for?” or “What does she see?” – the image is ultimately forgettable.

Through the use of this prop, these history- and class-laden Galilean binoculars, the model invites a slew of questions that provoke the viewer to engage the photograph as a story whose conclusion they’re dying to discover.


So true about what makes an image memorable versus forgettable. I recall hearing a portrait artist that had a similiar idea with smiling versus not smiling. He said that people smiling in images are wonderful, but ultimately forgettable. It’s the serious expression that invokes thought, questions and engagement.

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