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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Gallery Fourteen: Expressing the meaning of buildings and structures > Under the Walls of Santa Ana, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 2005
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Under the Walls of Santa Ana, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 2005

Under the Walls of Santa Ana, San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, 2005

The sun was creating deep shadows on the strikingly yellow façade of Santa Ana church, and I waited for a person to enter my frame to provide contrast in scale. Finally, the perfect subject arrived -- a woman bearing a staff, a figure out of the San Miguel's past. She seems so small in comparison to the walls of the huge church, symbolizing the power it has over the lives of those who choose to worship there. I use the woman as context to express how big the building is in terms of its scale. I also crop the building so that the huge slabs in its side seem to soar forever, suggesting that the power of a church can be infinite. By not showing the whole structure, and leaving much to the imagination of the viewer, we say more about it.

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Phil Douglis28-Apr-2006 19:42
As I said in the caption, Niall, this image was pre-visualized. The light and structure gave me the setting, and all I needed was the right subject at the right moment and place. So I waited, shot many pictures of many people, and this was the best of them.
Niall O'Shea28-Apr-2006 16:03
One of those 'wish I had taken it' photos. A great exemplar for your gallery theme.
Phil Douglis23-Nov-2005 19:51
Thanks, Kal, for stopping by this image. By abstracting the building, I take it out of the realm of life and turn it into pure form as symbol. You are right -- add a human being to that abstract symbolic form, and the result can become powerfully expressive.
Kal Khogali23-Nov-2005 13:49
Hi Phil. Don't know how I missed this before. Anyway, Can't add much to Moniques comment except that I find that images that are abstract (As this view would be without the lady) are often turned in to something incredibly expressive through the diruptive presensce of human content. This is such a case. What was a nice exrcise in form now transceds that into significant expressive content, all it took was a human being...Kal.
Phil Douglis15-Nov-2005 18:04
Glad you see so much in this image, Mo. It was my intention to stimulate such thoughts as yours. I agree with all of your observations.
monique jansen15-Nov-2005 15:13
It can say many things: the insignificance of the human in the larger scale of things, the fact that we are but a fly on the face of the earth, a being that is here for a very short time. It can also say something about the power of the church over people in Latin America, maybe even the oppressiveness of religion. It pervades life in LA, unlike in Europe, for instance.
Phil Douglis12-Nov-2005 19:50
Scale incongruity, yes. But for a purpose. The huge church contrasted to the small person also say something, don't they?
monique jansen12-Nov-2005 14:49
The scale says it all here
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