Cell Phone Visual Critique

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This selfie of a 17-year old boy who is happily reporting on his solo free climbimg of one of Boulder’s Flatirons is incredibly compelling – especially because of what will happen within one hour from when it was taken.

You can tell that this picture was taken with a cell phone because his face is sharp, but the rock and trees in the background are grainy.

Carter Christensen loved the outdoors.  This comes across very vividly in the picture.  In addition, the picture itself is of very good quality.  Not because the image itself is so sharp, but because of what it captures: he has a great smile, and he manages to show the steepness of what he has just climbed.

But more than anything, it is what most people will not notice that makes this photograph so compelling: the boy is wearing sunglasses, and the reflection may provide clues as to what might have happened.  In the reflection off of his left lens, you can see his outstretched left arm holding the camera at just the right angle to capture the steep rock behind him.  Could it be that this type of effort to record his own prowess made him ultimately lose his grasp on the rock?  Could he have fallen to his death because he wanted to stop somewhere even further up to take another selfie and tumbled?

Even though the end to this story is a sad and terrible tragedy, this picture is an invaluable gift for Carter’s family.  It records him doing something he loves, and that is how they will always remember him.

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