Duane Michals

Duane Michals

Duane michals

Born 1932

“…..I am a reflection photographing other reflections within a reflection. To photograph reality is to photograph nothing.”

The first time I had encountered the work of Duane Michals was in assignment two, looking at how he uses text to accompany his images. I like the way he uses everyday language as though speaking to a friend. His words and images together explore basic feelings, thoughts and emotions. In one of the exercise we were asked to  look at this image.


This photograph is my proof. 1974

This photograph is my proof. There was that afternoon, when things were still good between us, and she embraced me, and we were so happy. It did happen, she did love me. Look see for yourself!

Without the text I would maybe look at the image and see a happy couple posing for a photo. Although I do wonder why they face the wall? The text adds a very different interpretation, melancholy, longing, regret. This could be a staged image with a very different meaning, but because the text anchors the author’s intended meaning, the reader wants to believe it’s true. It reminds me of Sophie Calle’s ‘Take Care of Yourself’ – a way of dealing with rejection or act of revenge!


As long as I can remember, my father always said that one day he would write me a very special letter. But he never told me what the letter might be about. I used to try to guess what intimacy the two of us would at last share, what family secret would be revealed. I know what I had hoped to read in the letter. I wanted him to tell me where he had hidden his affection. But then he died, and the letter never did arrive. And I never did find that place where he had hidden his love.

This image is particularly heart-rending – well the text certainly is, the actual picture tells a different tale.  The mood of this image is tense and powerful. The body language of all three subjects is very tense and uncompromising. The title of the photograph leads one to assume that the boy in the image is Michals engaged in a family dispute, however side text tells us that it is his brother and his parents being portrayed. On reading the main text I learn more about Michals and how he longed for his father’s love and affection, the words are a poignant reminder of how life is too short to bear grudges.

https://artistresearcher.wordpress.com/2009/12/13/duane-michals-a-letter-from-my-father-1960-75/ [accessed 12th July 2016]
http://www.1000wordsmag.com/duane-michals [Accessed 12th July 2016]