Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Hats Off To Her

This Could Be A Scene From A Pre-War Movie

Photographs copyright: DAVID McMAHON


I was walking down a café zone in Melbourne about six weeks ago when I noticed a woman walking several metres ahead of me. It was a cold afternoon, with low cloud, a bit of drizzle and a testing wind.

She had on a hat and full-length coat and for a split second I wondered of there was a film or documentary crew somewhere, shooting her as she walked down the well-known lane in the central business district.

I had my camera around my neck, so I just sprinted a few yards and shot a quick frame, composing the shot instinctively to tried an exclude any extraneous elements and simply concentrate on a head-and-shoulders-from-behind shot that placed her in the context of the street, against colours that complemented the red-and-black ensemble she was wearing.

Yes, I know it’s not the sharpest image I’ve shot, but it’s here on my blog because it’s a real depiction of a shot taken literally while I was at full stride. A few seconds later, I realised she was not an actress, and that there was no film crew.

But I caught up with her anyway, introduced myself and said I’d taken a couple of shots as she walked ahead of me. I offered to show her the images on the LCD screen of my camera and said I’d delete them if she had any reservations about being photographed, albeit in a way that did not identify her.

But she told me she had no objections. So this is the story of that shot …


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37 comments:

The Things We Carried said...

Fabulous! It does look like a scene from a movie. I have to love a woman with such flair. What fun it must have been for her to be noticed by your camera as she is obviously a woman who has the confidence of her personal style :).

Poet said...

Rich in color and content. If there were a way (and I'm sure there is one) to remove the fellow on the right who is scratching his head, it would make a good large wall hanging.

Henry North London said...

How old was she?

lakeviewer said...

I agree with Meredith, the woman has the confidence to pull off such a stylish anacronysm. Good for her; and good for you for capturing it.

jinksy said...

Are you sure she wasn't a time traveller?!

Moannie said...

There is a Scottish painter by the name of Jack Vetriano [I think that is the correct spelling]and I covet his work. This could well be one of his paintings.Well spotted, David.

Pouty Lips said...

When I'm bored in meetings I like to sketch people from behind. You definitely have an artist's eyes.

Hilary said...

I imagine her face to be like that of the queen.

Maggie May said...

She does look like she came from my mother's era! Pre WW2.
Wonder what she was doing dressed up like that?
You are good asking about the photo even though she was not facing you. Not many people are so polite/considerate.

ethelmaepotter! said...

For a moment, I thought it was a photo of Aunt Clara, from the old 1960's sitcom, Bewitched. She was quite the character, definitely out of place and time.

Tranquility said...

I love her hat!!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

Deelightful actually...

Brian Miller said...

its cool when people feel the freedom to be themselves...not worrying about those around them. she gave me a smile...or maybe that was your pic. have a great day!

Joanna Jenkins said...

She probably has an interesting story. How old was she?

Elizabeth Bradley said...

You've got everyone's attention.

Alix said...

And why wouldn't she want to be captured for all eternity as art? It is a lovely composition - and like a truly good cinematic thriller... it's what you don't see that's almost more intriguing than what you do see. Thanks for engaging my imagination.

Akelamalu said...

I imagine her to be an elderly lady who likes to dress properly when she goes out, albeit from another era. :)

Bee said...

I have a weakness for photographs of people. This woman's accessories are almost a short story in themselves.

Sandi McBride said...

She looks like a member of the Royal Family from the rear...or a member of my own family for that matter...I had an Aunt that was quite fond of hats and furs!
Thanks for sharing her with us...
Sandi

A Scattering said...

What a lovely story, and the photo really does have an "old Hollywood" feel about it.

Sarah Lulu said...

Transported to another era ..is so exactly right!

Carver said...

I love these shots. They do look like they could have been taken from another time.

jay said...

That really is a very atmospheric shot - well both of them are, but I like the top one better! Good catch!

Sylvia K said...

Fantastic! I bet she's an interesting woman, be fun to know her background! Thanks for sharing the shot and I'm glad she had no objection!

Have a great week, David!

Sylvia

Jazz said...

If ever you see her again, tell her I adored her hat!

Lisa Gioia-Acres said...

Terrific picture. So many times I want to take a picture of an interesting person but find it difficult to do so because I'll have to tell them I did it! I have taken a few without notice but only keep them in my collection, although I'd love to share them with the world at large.

As an oral historian I find it fairly easy to approach srangers to ask them to share their stories. Why can't getting their story via a picture be just as easy for me?

Annie said...

Sounds like a pretty sensible woman on a cold day in Melbourne to me.

I had to don a hat and scarf on Sunday evening when we walked to the park with the children. Especially as I felt like I was coming down with the kids cough. I don't consider myself elderly in my sixties, but my son thought I looked like my mother (must admit I was wearing a hat of hers, and a scarf of mine that she had borrowed often)!
Unfortunately though, I didn't look as glamorous as the lady in your photograph, David!

Fat, frumpy and fifty... said...

I came back for another peek at the hat and coat lady...and the coat is a true vintage astrakhan coat, which is persian and a mink collar...divine vintage..

is it THAT cold there?

Catherine said...

she looks a real individual out of place and time...

introspection said...

I am with Hilary. She does look like the Queen from behind. The mystery queen. I wonder what she would think of all the comments here about her and Sir David's intriguing photography, for that's what it is< Intriguing.
cheers.

Beth said...

Awesome! I love this story.

Kay said...

i want to be here...she is my ideal.

SandyCarlson said...

I like her style--and yours!

Shadow said...

from day gone by for sure!

Greyscale Territory said...

Fascinating! That last photo is almost symbolic of a meeting of worlds, maybe values!

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Oh David, I LOVE it!! I love hats espeacially the ones from this by gone era! You did a fantastic job!!

Gaston Studio said...

Love it David, and like you, would have been looking for the cameras and actors. Love also that she feels comfortable in her skin, hat, coat, etc.