Visual literacy is the process of examining a photograph for detail and then making inferences base on those details. Does the photograph raise any questions? My primary question is usually “Who is holding the camera?” That question, if answered, may provide a great deal of context. Another question might be “Is a particular event being photographed?” Wedding photographs are usually very obvious. “Who is in the photograph?” may present the most frustration if the photo isn’t labeled. Tracking down someone who can do that identification can be extremely difficult depending on the age of the photograph. With that said, there are several photographs this week that grabbed my attention.
These boots are an icon of ranch life in the West. Obviously well-used and equipped with spurs, they represent a way of life that is disappearing. Mike Rawlings, photographing for the now-defunct Vail Trail, shot this photo and others of cattle shipping day in Burns, Colorado, November 1989. Local ranchers routinely shipped stock from Burns. Kathy Heicher wrote the accompanying story. I would love to know who was wearing those boots and, happily, Mike and Kathy are still available. They might know. At the entrance to Ski Cooper, Tennessee Pass, there is a monument to the 10th Mountain Division, “In memory of our 990 comrades in arms who gave their lives on the World War II battlefields of Italy and Aleutian Islands.” All 990 names are listed. These men and those who returned were trained at Camp Hale, a few miles down the highway at Pando, Colorado. Next to the monument stands a wooden flagpole painted white. As the photographer, I wondered about the significance of the flagpole. Accustomed to today’s metal flagpoles, it seemed to me almost fragile next to the solidarity of the monument.
Happily, I was accompanied that day by a gentleman from the 10th Mountain Division who had trained at Camp Hale for those battles. He informed me that the flagpole was the original one from the Camp, making it particularly appropriate for its location at the monument.