A few quadrants-worth of pointe shoes displayed at The Shoe Room, the boutique outfitting store for Canada’s National Ballet School. I wasn’t sure at first how to approach this shot. I tried taking an oblique angle, hoping to show a dramatic close-to-far vista of shoes – but that didn’t work well when I tried it (I think the wooden cubbies interfered with the purity of the effect). Then I stepped back and took a carefully symmetrical view of the majority of the display, thinking that the volume of shoes should be conveyed – but that didn’t work well either, because it seemed it would be impossible for viewers to figure out that the myriad objects in the cubbies were actually pointe shoes. So I ended up cropping in much more tightly to make clear the identity of the items, while still hinting at how many shoes there must be by composing a “borderless” image. I think the window light streams in more dramatically, too.


I took a morning stroll through London last month to visit my editor at The Spectator, but upon reaching The Mall was greeted by the sight of numerous heavily-armed police cordoning off the area. Winding my way along the sole approved path to St. James’s Park, I asked an officer what was going on. “State opening of Parliament”, he shrugged, a little wearily. It took me just as long to exit Westminster after my meeting. Asking another officer how to get through a crowd and cordon to a particular Tube station, she shook her head. “You can’t get there from here.”

John Rawlings

This gorgeous photo is by Condé Nast photographer the late John Rawlings (model: Suzy Parker). Published in 1953, it’s a powerful reminder to me that fashion photography is not subject to laws of “progress” or historical development – apart from the dress and hairstyle depicted, this image could have been made in the 21st century by Paolo Roversi or Javier Vallhonrat. Rather, I suspect that photographers explore their own stylistic regions in a space defined as the set of all possible photographs – a space that neither expands nor contracts, and is always with us from generation to generation.


The recessed and dramatic crucifixion sculpture in the apse of l’église Saint Roch in Paris. The “INRI” on the sign above the head of Christ stands, of course, for “IESUS NAZARENUS REX IUDAEORUM” (Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews). Acronyms in Latin and especially Greek were important to the early Church as means to communicate spiritual ideas without attracting the unwanted attention of imperial Roman persecutors. For a fascinating discussion of this, visit http://www.newworldencyclopedia.org/entry/INRI

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