Photoanalysis: Interpret the Hidden Psychological Meaning of Photos by Dr. Robert U., Akeret

An excerpt from the book Photoanalysis: How to Interpret The Hidden Psychological Meaning of Photos by Dr. Robert U. Akeret.

PHOTOANALYSIS: HOW TO INTERPRET THE HIDDEN PSYCHOLOGICAL MEANING OF PERSONAL AND PUBLIC PHOTOS. By Dr. Robert U. Akeret, edited by Thomas Humber. New York: Peter H. Wyden, 1973.

About the book: A fascinating manual on how to analyze photographs from the family album or newspaper to discover the relationships between the people that may not have been obvious. Included are many photographs with analyses made on poses, smiles, hand gestures, groupings, distances between people, and how they relate to the camera. Snapshots will never be the same after reading this.

From the book: Here is an analysis made on a photograph: Like most people, you probably see a father, his son, and his daughter. Given the background and their informal dress, you guess they are on a vacation in the country. They seem cozy, affectionate. They stand close together, and the father warmly and protectively has his arms around the children. They are all relaxed, casual.... This seemingly innocent, everyday photograph--certainly it was casually taken--is packed with meaning, some of it disturbing and mystifying. There is an element here that shouldn't be, something unusual and out of character with the other elements... The daughter is tilting her head slightly toward her father, indicating a closeness with and an affection for him. But she is having trouble making the contact. There is an obstruction, something preventing her from getting closer. If you look closely you will see it is her brother's fist. His arm is extended straight and stiff behind his father's back, and his fist pushes against his sister's neck.

When I 1st saw this photo, I asked the daughter, now in her 30s, if she and her brother had fought. They had, constantly, for many years, but she could not understand how I knew, since she had never mentioned it.

"It's all there in the photo," I said. As we talked further about her relationship with her brother, she realized that the fist in the photo was symbolic of their battles, and of the anger and resentment her brother had expressed toward her since her birth, when she displaced him as the only child. As he used the straight arm and fist in the photo to keep her away from her father, the brother often used the same technique to keep her away from him. He would infuriate her by teasing, and then hold her off so she couldn't move in close to retaliate.

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