Ara Guler’s Hitchcock
The photograph “Alfred Hitchcock” (1974) by Ara Guler is a portrait. The photograph is a capture of Alfred Hitchcock in his office in the Universal Studios in Los Angeles, representing his day-to-day place of work. There is office equipment and furniture present in the photograph. Hitchcock is sitting in a comfortable leather arm-chair, his legs placed on an office table. There are frames hanging on the wall and a plugged cable in the background. Hitchcock is formally dressed: he wears a suit, a collar shirt, a tie and formal shoes. Hitchcock’s legs are crossed.
The photograph is captured in a way to show some satisfaction in Hitchcock at his place of work. The office looks organized, with considerably expensive equipment, fittings and fixtures. It looks like such a study provides a certain level of satisfaction and comfort to its occupant.
The photograph was captured from a narrow range and close quarters. That means that Guler was close to the subject while performing a shot. This is apparent from the size of the focal point as well as the narrow view of those items that are not in focus. The focal point – Hitchcock – is well focused; he is big in size and every detail about him is captured. The rest of the elements in the picture are visible, but they lack deail.
Guler tries to bring to the viewer’s notice Hitchcock’s high life .The focus on the way Hitchcock is sitting is the photographer’s attempt to communicate with the viewer on the status of Hitchcock. Sitting with hands resting on the chair’s arms and legs on the table depicts a certain extent of comfort, coziness and extravagant life. On the same note, Ara Guler focuses on Hitchcock’s style of dressing, which gives the implication that he is wealthy. Apart from being formal wear, the clothing looks expensive and luxurious. Office equipment and furniture also look expensive and stylish. The leather chair looks luxurious as well, like a throne.
Guler shows the success in the career of the focal point. Capturing the photograph in the office implies that Hitchcock was a successful director in his career. This implication can be inferred from the fact that the photograph is taken in his place of work and he looks relaxed and without any distress. The calmness in his facial expression in the photograph shows that there is achievement in his line of career.
In the picture, Hitchcock – who is the focal point – occupies a large portion of space within the frame. Although he is sitting in the chair, he seems to be looking at the viewer from above, hence emphasizzing his status. This means Guler took a shot from a lower position.
The lighting in the photograph seems to be natural. The objects seem to be lighted from the right side and the upper right corner.
The visual elements in the photograph are organic, with gray subdued colors. The tonal range of the picture is limited, narrowing down at the focal point. The texture of the photograph is manufactured and sensuous. There is considerable contrast in the subject, with wide focus on the focal point and almost negligible focus on the background items.
The photo is not rich in variety; there is no visible rhythm or repetition. As a result, it maintains balance in its design.
Ara Guler used to make photographic interviews of most influential people of the 1970s. Hitchcock was among the most success people in art and film directing. Pictures of him, including this photograph, were recorded in several documents as well as preserved in Hitchcock’s gallery.
The photograph under analyses creates history. During the time of its making, Hitchcock was a renowned film director. Years later, people can still view his career life and the way he changed the film industry. As Guler says, his photography is intended to be historical, showing people and their life issues.