A Dissertation on my New York Times Square photograph – Stuck in Customs

A Dissertation on my New York Times Square photograph

I get a ton of emails and I am probably a horrible person because I only read a few of them. If I could clone myself, then maybe I could read them all… my apologies again to those that ask for a response but never get one… sorry I am just really backed up!

However, I did happen to read this one email – maybe the subject caught my eye (hint there!). But this gal, Nadia Sobehart from Washington University, wrote a 4000+ word paper which both analyzes my photograph of Times Square and me to a certain degree. This photograph is currently represented by Getty and it shows up all over the place in various ad campaigns, billboards, airport posters for cellphone service, Conan, taxicabs, etc.

It was very surreal for me to read about my work in this sort of a context. You can read the full article here, and I have placed a small excerpt below:

In “Times Square,” Ratcliff hints at a relationship between society and the media; this relationship questions the role of glamour in creating the Times Square image. Everything from the flashy advertisements to the eerie sky is in sync – picture perfect – except for the mass of people, who seem overwhelmed by the grandiosity of their surroundings. While the human eye normally fixates on the in-focus portions of a photograph, this is not true of “Times Square.” As a result of the bright distractions and movement, the eye instantaneously jumps to the billboards, the bright lights, and nearly avoids looking at the object in focus: the crowd of people. Complicating the suggestion that society has a relationship with the media, the article, “Recreating the City as Entertainment Center: The Media Industry’s Role in Transforming Potsdamer Platz and Times Square,” contrasts Ratcliff’s portrayal by indicating that it is not a negative relationship. Rebutting Ratcliff’s portrayal of the media as an encumbering force, Roost claims that there is a mutual relationship between the media industry and the Times Square community; in fact, the media industry is necessary and beneficial to the New York City community (Roost). Roost explains how the media is vital for the economic well-being of New York City, by providing jobs and a mass market, which is an idea that contradicts the photograph’s negative implications; it indicates that the media is actually helping society. Roost further establishes the media-Times Square connection acknowledged by Ratcliff by saying that the two complement each other for economic survival. While the media industry provides employment and economic progress, Times Square acts as the perfect center for the media industry, “[a] strategic [site] for these industries,” a place for it to truly prosper (Roost 3). He also introduces the role of society in this relationship: the community serves the media by acting as a consumer of its products (5). Roost’s article qualifies the relationship between Times Square and society, which is necessary to understand the photograph’s cultural context. This relationship between society and the media industry adds the modern premise for the Times Square-glamour relationship but says nothing of the historical context.

And here is the photo “Times Square”, itself:

Times Square at Dusk