End of an Age

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Paul Graham is a British fine art and documentary photographer. His work the End of an Age is a document based on the complicated transition that young people undergo from adolescence to adulthood. The book mainly resonates between two poles; full consciousness of the change happening to them and escapism from the change. Between seeing the world in shocking clarity and facing it head on and the desire to shy away from it, placing the young people in a world of alcohol and drugs as they seek to hide away from their fate.

These ideas of uncertainty, pain and trauma are visible throughout this publication. Not one of the adolescent people photographed are photographed looking at the camera suggesting their unwillingness to accent the inevitable. The images become a sequence of images where the person is turning further and further away from the camera until we can only see the back of their head. It strips them of their identity so that they can be whoever they want to be.

The images included in the book are raw, gritty and truthful images. Some of them are not even technically correct. Take the opening images for example. This is a sequence of images that zooms in on an individuals eyes. These are wide, red and become very blurry as Graham zooms close and closer into them. This support the idea that they are feeling lost during this testing time of their lives. They are quite intimidating images as they a spread across a two page spread which makes them quite powerful within their own right. The hard light is continued throughout the book and supports this theme of powerful images. They are clearly taken with flash which separates them from background and ultimately isolates them making them appear much more vulnerable. The use of red throughout the book suggest danger and there for subconsciously hints at the theme of fear, a factor that drives these individuals to alcohol and drugs as a coping mechanism.

The layout throughout the book is very simple which I think is necessary to present such a strong message. Images either full page bleeds or double page spreads. They typically feature an image per page, with the occasional blank page which creates a nice balance between content and white space. This white space give the reader a break, it allows us to read into the images more and internalise the message Graham is trying to convey. I like that the images are full page because it means that the audience can clearly see ever aspect of the image and ultimately means that they pack more of a punch. We are able to read the blank space more inquisitively whereas if the image was smaller and there was more white space the meaning of each individual image has potential to get lost.

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