Finger in Your Eye

all photos: Collection of Barbara Levine/

We have all done it - sometime between pressing down the shutter and its closure, our finger(s) slip into the frame resulting in a picture featuring a giant phantom shape (sometimes with manicured nail) hovering over a car or building or appearing to touch the subjects in the photo. This 'accident' is especially evident in vintage snapshots when people were still getting used to cameras and before you could see what your picture would look like before you snapped it.

The ‘finger in your eye’ accident (my term of endearment for these snapshots) becomes the subject of the photograph. Because the fingertip(s) shown in the photo is the photographer’s, we become aware viscerally of the relationship between photographer, subject and camera. The resulting photos are abstract and accidentally mysterious.

Back when these photos were made, they were probably tossed aside as mistakes. Looking at them now, these seemingly banal images look strange, almost as if they are scenes from a lost mystery or science fiction story. What story would you make up about them?

All photos: Collection of Barbara Levine/

2 comments Barbara Levine, vintage snapshots

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