UK photographer Tim Booth believes the hands tell a more honest story about what a person has been through than faces.In an extensive photographic study, Booth has turned images of people’s hands into an alternative form of portraiture.
“When you look at just the hands, your mind is free from pre-conceptions and is able to imagine the whole life of the person, their completeness, rather than just the aesthetic of a face,” he told the ABC.
He has had the pleasure of working with some of the world’s most well-known people, including England’s former rugby union player Jonny Wilkinson and Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason.
But Booth is also intrigued by the not as well-known, everyday people with a lifetime of experience in their trade.
People have always been Fritz Liedtke’s favorite subjects.
He was out to dinner several years ago when he was taken with one of his dining companions, a woman with “amazing freckles.”
Liedtke asked if he could take her photograph, which he did under the light of a neon sign in front of the restaurant.
“It was one of the most beautiful photographs I had taken all year,” he says of the moment that launched him on a search for more freckled faces to photograph.
Portrait of a woman with freckles
Liedtke is interested in making beautiful images, and for him, freckles are beautiful.
But, as we all know, beauty is subjective. Look up the word “freckle” in the thesaurus and you will get one or two sweet-sounding words in the list of synonyms, like “beauty mark” and “daisy.”
But the majority are not sweet, such as “flaw,” “blotch,” and “mark.”
Portrait of a little girl with freckles
As Liedtke began talking with and photographing more friends and acquaintances who shared this prominent feature, he wasn’t surprised to discover that many held deep-rooted beliefs about this feature he found so captivating.
One loved her freckles, recalling them being referred to by her parents as “angel kisses.”
Another remembered as a child being asked by her grandmother to wash up for dinner after playing outside, then crying when her grandmother asked her to go wash again, having mistaken her freckles for dirt.
Traditional tattoo designs, like anchors, swallows, and nautical stars, are popping up on the arms and ankles of kids in every hip neighborhood from Brooklyn to Berlin, Sao Paulo to San Francisco.
Yet these young land lubbers probably don’t even know the difference between a schooner and a ship, much less where the term “groggy” comes from. (Hint: Grog once referred to a watered-down rum issued by the British Royal Navy to every sailor over age 20.)
“There’s no way to take a tattoo home, except in your skin.”
In fact, contemporary tattooing in the West can be traced to the 15th century, when European pilgrims would mark themselves with reminders of locations they visited, as well as the names of their hometowns and spouses to help identify their bodies should they die during their travels.
“The attractions of tattoos for itinerant populations are quite obvious,” says tattoo-art historian Matt Lodder.
“They can’t be lost or stolen and they don’t encumber an already heavily burdened traveler, so it’s not a surprise that they became inextricably linked with sailors.”
Though tattooing was already present in much of Europe, during the 1700s, the visibility of exotic voyages taken by the likes of Captain James Cook helped cement the connection between tattoos and seafaring men in the popular media.
The English word “tattoo” is actually a descendant of the Tahitian word “tatau,” which Cook recorded after a stop on the island while travelling in the South Pacific.
Captain Elvy, who worked as a sideshow attraction, displays his beautiful back piece designed by “Sailor” George Fosdick.
European explorers frequently returned with tattooed foreigners to exhibit as oddities in the West, like Omai, the native Raiatean man Cook presented to King George and members of British royal society. Such publicity soon ignited a more widespread fascination with body art.
Illustration of human viscera by Paulo Mascagni, from his Anatomia Universa (1823-31) – Source: Wellcome Library, London.
Paolo Mascagni (January 25, 1755 – October 19, 1815) was an Italian physician and anatomist. He is most well known for publishing the first complete description of the lymphatic system.
Mascagni was born in the comune of Pomarance (in the Province of Pisa) to Aurelio Mascagni and Elisabetta Burroni, both belonging to old gentry families of Chiusdino.
He studied philosophy and medicine at the University of Siena. Upon graduating in 1777, renowned anatomist Pietro Tabarrini took Mascagni as an assistant. Upon Tabarrini’s death in 1780, Mascagni was appointed as an anatomy lecturer at the University of Siena.
As a young man, Mascagni was interested in geological sciences, as evidenced by his several papers on the Lagoni (thermal springs) of Siena and Volterra. Upon graduation, he turned his interest to the human lymphatic system. His many discoveries in this field led to the composition and publication of Vasorum lymphaticorum corporis humani historia et iconographia in 1787.
For this reason, he spent seven months in prison after the French were expelled. Mascagni was freed from prison by a motu proprio of the King of Etruria, who on October 22, 1801 appointed Mascagni a professor of anatomy at the University of Pisa, with the additional charge of lecturing twice a week at the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova in Florence.
In 1807, Mascagni was appointed professor of anatomy at the University of Florence. There, he wrote Treatise of Anatomy.
In the 1950s, photojournalist Lennart Nilsson set out to capture the earliest stages of existence.
In April 1965, Life magazine put a photograph called Foetus 18 Weeks on its cover and caused a sensation.
The issue was a spectacular success, the fastest-selling copy in Life’s entire history. In crystal clear detail, the picture showed a foetus in its amniotic sac, with its umbilical cord winding off to the placenta.
The unborn child, floating in a seemingly cosmic backdrop, appears vulnerable yet serene. Its eyes are closed and its tiny, perfectly formed fists are clutched to its chest.
Capturing that most universal of subjects, our own creation, Foetus 18 Weeks was one of the 20th century’s great photographs, as emotive as it was technically impressive, even by today’s standards.
And its impact was enormous, growing into something its creator struggled to control, as the image was hijacked by the fledgling anti-abortion movement.
Foetus 18 Weeks was taken by Lennart Nilsson, part of an astonishing series of prenatal pictures by this visionary Swedish photojournalist. His groundbreaking pictures have now reached a whole new generation, having just been shown at the Paris Photo art fair, the first time they have ever been exhibited outside Sweden.
Not long ago, a precious packet of blood traveled more than 7,000 miles by special courier, from America to Australia, to save the life of a newborn. Months before the delivery date, a routine checkup of the mom-to-be had revealed that the fetus suffered from hemolytic disease.
Doctors knew that the baby would need a blood transfusion immediately after delivery. The problem was, the baby’s blood type was so rare that there wasn’t a single compatible donor in all of Australia.
A request for compatible blood was sent first to England, where a global database search identified a potential donor in the United States.
From there, the request was forwarded to the American Rare Donor Program, directed by Sandra Nance. The ARDP had compatible frozen blood on hand, but Nance knew that a frozen bag might rupture in transit.
So her organization reached out to the compatible donor, collected half a liter of fresh blood, and shipped it across the Pacific. When the mother came in to give birth, the blood was waiting. “It was just magic,” Nance says.
You’re probably aware of eight basic blood types: A, AB, B and O, each of which can be “positive” or “negative.” They’re the most important, because a patient who receives ABO +/– incompatible blood very often experiences a dangerous immune reaction.
For the sake of simplicity, these are the types that organizations like the Red Cross usually talk about. But this system turns out to be a big oversimplification.
Each of these eight types of blood can be subdivided into many distinct varieties. There are millions in all, each classified according to the little markers called antigens that coat the surface of red blood cells.
AB blood contains A and B antigens, while O blood doesn’t contain either; “positive” blood contains the Rhesus D antigen, while “negative” blood lacks it. Patients shouldn’t receive antigens that their own blood lacks—otherwise their immune system may recognize the blood as foreign and develop antibodies to attack it.
That’s why medical professionals pay attention to blood types in the first place, and why compatible blood was so important for the baby in Australia. There are in fact hundreds of antigens that fall into 33 recognized antigen systems, many of which can cause dangerous reactions during transfusion.
One person’s blood can contain a long list of antigens, which means that a fully specified blood type has to be written out antigen by antigen—for example, O, r”r”, K:–1, Jk(b-).
Try fitting that into that little space on your Red Cross card.