John Thomson Photography

John Thomson Photograph


Source: Thomson, John: “Women with Bound Feet,” 4,700 × 3,492 pixels (unable to find year).

The image I chose, titled, “Women with Bound Feet,” depicts a woman exposing her bound feet. The photographer, John Thomson, famous for photographing everyday life, compares the feet with a regular unbound foot. The woman pictured is surrounded by nothing. She is wearing simple clothes, little jewelry, and exhibits an expressionless face in this photograph. She seems ordinary which leads me to believe she was a prostitute who was paid by Thomson to pose and expose her destroyed feet to the world. This image is unveiling the horrible act of foot binding and showing the world that it may not be something that should be desired by all.

What is photographer’s purpose of taking this photo and make an argument about that

The image above seems bland. It is simple, and through its simplicity uncovers many pieces behind this particular photo. At first glance, the bound feet are not the first thing that catches an observers attention. The expression on the woman’s face is the first thing that would catch someones eye.The woman in the picture seems unamused. Her expression makes me feel as though she has seen hard times. She does not seem regal or confident but shows an expression of defeat. The cloth she is wrapping around herself is a glimpse into the idea that she could be a poor woman. Dorothy Ko, mentioned that Thomson would pay lower class women to expose their bound feet for a few cents (purpose of doing so?). To have a natural foot displayed next to the bound one dramatically shows the difference. It shows what this woman’s foot could have been. It is important to note, that the natural foot is standing alone. There is no face attached to it. This choice, by Thomson, helps focus all attention on the unveiled feet. Dorothy Ko explains that many saw the uncovering as laughable in her essay, “A Bondage in Time.” This claim is proven in the photo which lacks the beauty and mystery that foot binding once had. Once uncovered, the practice is seen as grotesque and undesired. The secrecy once associated with foot binding is lost and its once unveiled slowly loses its popularity.

– Maggie Small