Norma Waterson and her daughter Eliza Carthy have a new recording called Gift. The evocative cover image, which I imagine to be of this mother and daughter duo, prominently and lovingly features jewelry.

Being a full-on music geek, my first thought for this blog was to gather examples of iconic album covers that feature jewelry front and center. But I think that would stifle an opportunity to ask myself smaller, more precious questions.

What makes this image emotionally powerful?

Does the jewelry elevate the intensity of the photo?

How large a role do the hands play?

What if the bracelets were reversed on the wearers?

What if both hands were youthful or both were elderly?

What if the bracelets were switched to an all vintage style or all contemporary one?

Is this a crop from a larger photo or is it an intentional close up?

Is the gripping gesture by the older hand one of support and guidance ?

Is the younger hand pulling away or drawing nearer?

What messages, subtle or overt, are passed from one generation to the next through jewelry?

What other tangible objects connect us to our ancestors?

While making their work, do jewelers ever think about next-generation wearers?

What does this image offer that tabletop jewelry photography does not?

Why isn’t jewelry photographed on the body more frequently?

Does photographing jewelry being worn dilute the presence of the maker?

How much can or should narrative be considered in model photography?

What are some of the ways in which jewelry is a gift?

Marthe & Sara Le Van, August 18, 2010

Please share your own questions and thoughts via the comment box below. Thanks!


6 Responses

    That cover is so touching.

    Ray Hemachandra says:

    Which better expresses the identity or personality of each person: her actual hand or the jewelry she's wearing on it?

    Sally Mack says:

    Jewelry should always be photographed on a live person. How else can you see the scale, the drape and the inherent beauty that the body gives to the jewelry in response to the beauty of the jewelry itself. The first photo evokes relationship…old to young, young to old…giving and taking … teaching and learning… support and love.

    marthelark says:

    Great question Ray. For me (at this moment at least), it's the actual hand because of its significant role in nonverbal communication. A warm hand reaching out to embrace. An fiddling, nervous hand. An experienced, dexterous hand.

    Karen B. says:

    Ray–to me, always the hand. The choreographer Martha Graham once said, “Bodies don't lie,” because there's an element of our physicality we just can't fake. If we try, it usually betrays us. And while we generally choose our accessories to communicate something meaningful about our personalities, it's easier to be deceptive with a bracelet.

    Diana says:

    Such fantastic questions. The one that really made me ponder was “While making their work, do jewelers ever think about next-generation wearers?” Hmmm, I hadn’t thought of that. I tend to think of the “now” and what’s in fashion when making my jewelry. But I also craft symbols for body adornment and empowerment, which are timeless. Perhaps if I adjust my thinking, these timeless body adornments could be handed down through the generations – as symbols of who “Auntie” or “Grandma” were… Thank you for that perspective.
    Diana Casabar

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