This old water pump stood outside in back of a sharecropper’s house near Maxton, North Carolina. I had visited before and photographed the farmer and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Locklear. I passed their place one day in 1959 and stopped by again to talk and look for something to photograph.
I had walked by this pump several times, but for some reason that day, it caught my eye. I was out looking for pictures with the idea of photographing common things from a different perspective. Since most photographs are taken at eye level, I was trying to view things from the ground upward as well as from the perspective above an object downward.
Simplicity is perhaps one of the greatest attributes of this photograph. The picture won first place in the pictorial class of Southern Photographer of the Year competition.
It is now part of a permanent collection of photography at the Smithsonian Institution.
Additionally, the photograph won several top awards in national competitions and has appeared in more than a dozen publications encouraging creativity in art and photography. I always used the image while teaching photography classes for its representation of ideal composition, use of shadow and contrast, and the results gained from looking at an object from all angles.
Pump and Pail: Black and White Composition
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