Boy from Arlington Heights, Illinois

What it is:

Photo (3 x 5.25 inches) mounted on a cardboard frame/backing (4.25 x 6.5 inches).

What I know about it:

Photographer is Collins of Arlington Heights, Illinois.  Otherwise undated and unidentified.


I think this photo has a subtle power to it.  It’s so seemingly simple, just a boy standing there, and yet it has an impact that catches me each time I look at it.  The environment isn’t ostentatiously stark, but the slight billow of the curtain is the only thing that breaks up the visual spareness.  There’s no chair to lean on, no plant to soften things.  The lighting isn’t self-consciously arty, but the slight shadow hints at drama.  It’s a portrait of solitude.  And the boy himself evokes my sympathy, carefully groomed and posed to convey refinement, but wearing an ill-fitting suit and posing in a way that makes it look like he’s missing an arm (assuming he isn’t actually missing an arm).  All that with a face that is melancholy beyond its years.

6 comments on “Boy from Arlington Heights, Illinois”

  1. Are we sure its a boy? I think that is the one armed man who killed Dr. Richard Kimball’s wife.

  2. time travel – thanks for doing what you’re doing. it’s sweet and simple and extremely enjoyable

  3. I enjoyed your comments on this photo, as my first thought was that this boy was missing his right arm. I think it is the pose, but my great-uncle lost his arm at the shoulder as a younger man and at a glance, this was how he looked. He kept the sleeve of his shirts tucked into his pocket so it could almost fool a person for a moment. Interesting shot, especially for being so straight-forward.

    • Thanks, Jenna. I really couldn’t tell if he was missing an arm or not. The only thing that made me think it was just a pose was that he was holding it behind his back. I’ve seen one-armed people pin their sleeves to the front or side, or tuck it in their pockets like your uncle, but not pin them to the back. Glad you like the photo.

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