“Willie Causey Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama”

 

 

In this photograph titled, “Willie Causey Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama,” Parks explores the roots of violence in the African-American community. He effectively implements camera angles, body language, composition, symbolism, and juxtaposition to highlight the contrasting beliefs and values amongst the different generations of the African-American community. Parks utilizes these visual techniques to achieve his purpose of visually conveying the adverse effects of poverty in the African-American community, while, also informing his racially diverse American audience on the important issue of the lack of gun-control in America.

Firstly, Park’s utilizes a medium-close-up shot to highlight and emphasize the body language of Willie Causey Jr. The use of a vertical- medium-close-up shot proves effective, as it clearly focuses on Willie Jr, while simultaneously highlighting the contrasting body language between willie and his siblings, who positioned to be the ‘background’ of this photograph. In this photograph, Willie is portrayed to be sitting reservedly while looking fixated at his gun. His strong fixation with his gun displays his thoughts of using violence as a means to combat the struggles he endures, like poverty. Thus, Willie’s body language universally signifies the deep and dark desires and goals of several African-Americans during a time of poverty and suffering in the late 1950s. Furthermore, the use of a vertical shot also accentuates the smallness of a large family’s house, which again, effectively highlights the poverty endured by a normal African-American family.

The composition of this photograph also effectively highlights the contrasting values between the two different generations. Park’s effectively juxtaposes a gun and book to highlight the contrasting beliefs and values between different generations of the African-American community. Willie’s gun symbolizes violence and aggression, while on the contrary, his younger sibling’s book symbolizes education and in a sense, “the American dream”. Thus, the juxtaposition of these contrasting symbols in a sense visually conveys the roots of violence in the black community— poverty, and oppression. Park’s use of visual juxtaposition is reoccurring throughout several of his photography depicting African-Americans, as it effectively conveys his overarching purpose of showcasing the different means in which African-Americans deal with poverty and oppression.

Park also implements a dull color palette to enhance the melancholy mood of this photograph. The use of desaturated colors like the colors beige, grey and brown, enhances the somber mood of this photograph which appeals to pathos. The dull color palette of this photograph also exemplifies the problem of extreme accessibleness to guns in America. Seeing a teenager positioned sitting so closely to toddlers reading a book while holding a gun effectively conveys Park’s purpose of visually conveying to his American audience that America has a lack of gun-control problem.

Overall, just like several of Park’s photography, Park’s effectively conveys a wide variety of problems endured by the African-American community during the late 1950s through imagery. In “Willie Causey Jr. with Gun During Violence in Alabama,” Park’s implements camera angles, body language, composition, symbolism, and juxtaposition to highlight the contrasting beliefs and values amongst the different generations of the African-American community, conveying the adverse effects of poverty in the African-American community in the late 1950s, and addressing America’s problem with the lack of gun-control regulations.

One thought on ““Willie Causey Jr., with Gun During Violence in Alabama”

  1. Some excellent points here, Mynn, particularly related to symbolism.
    I think gun control is more of a contemporary concern than a concern of Gordon Parks when he was taking this photo.
    What do you think of the positioning of the chair that the main subject is seated on, tilted back on two legs as it is?

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