A Literary Journal of Photography and Fiction
Camera Obscura has thick, glossy pages that are pleasant to the touch. The journal publishes established as well as emerging writers and photographers. Editor M.E. Parker sums up the similarity between photography and the written word: “There are only stories. Some etched from the soul of a writer, others captured by the eye of a masterful photographer, all with something of the truth about what it means to be alive.” Also worth noting is the journal’s beautifully constructed website which includes a detailed and visually appealing history of the camera obscura.
Chan Kwok Hung’s “Goal” is the winner of the journal’s Outstanding Professional Photography Award. Against the backdrop of a dark sky, five young monks barefoot and dressed in brilliant red robes are in the act of playing soccer. Their young bodies, all sinew and drive, portray a degree of intense youthful energy.
Marcela Bolivar’s illustrative photograph, “A Wanderer’s Home,” is the winner of the Outstanding Amateur Photography Award. A woman is trapped inside a house, her long white dress inches away from tall grasses and tree roots that have caught on fire. Branches jut through an open window in the background. One of the woman’s hands clutches onto a fallen tree bark while the other appears bent at an uncomfortable angle. My eye is immediately drawn to the contrast between the movement and vivid color of the flames and the blue-white paleness of the woman’s face.
“Hair” by Catherin Colaw shows a naked woman bending at the waist, her wet hair hanging upside down, covering her chest and falling to just above her knees. Arms stretched behind her back, the symmetry of the woman’s shoulders is stunning.
“Silent Morning,” an intriguing black-and-white photo shot by Svetlana Batura, shows a young girl sitting at a kitchen table cluttered with platters of food. The girl seems tired, unenthused, perhaps even discontent. Elbows on the table, the girl’s head is supported by her left hand while her right hand holds a fork upright, pressing the tines lightly against a plate of untouched food. Where are the adults in this story? Why is the girl sitting alone? The title and gloomy mood of the photo lead me to believe that family and friends have gathered after a funeral, leaving the girl with a feeling of disconnectedness, or confusion. This is my favorite kind of photograph, the sort that is left open to interpretation, allowing the viewer to come to her own conclusions.
An old wrinkled woman standing before a run-down shack smiles close-mouthed at the lens, her eyes so squinty they appear shut in Larry Louie’s “Nepalese Smiles.” Another captivating photograph by the same photographer is “Living Under the Bridge,” which won the Editor’s Choice Award for Outstanding Professional Photography. A woman and her five children gather around a fire in the woods, trash and loose playing cards strewn on the ground. The luminous fire at the center of their circle catches the viewer’s eye as it is the only source of light in this otherwise muted and grainy photograph.
In “Deer at Rest,” a poignant, yet spare flash fiction piece by Thisbe Nissen, a mother fearing for her daughter’s life after visiting her at an eating disorders clinic, witnesses a mother deer and her baby along a highway median. She doesn’t have to look behind her to see that the deer have been run over. The story concludes with the woman sobbing on the side of the road, overcome by “the cursed, blessed luck” that the mother and child deer have at least died together.