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Phil Douglis | all galleries >> Galleries >> Gallery Two: Travel Incongruities > Shoe Store Window, Lima, Peru, 2003
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Shoe Store Window, Lima, Peru, 2003

The contrast between this huge white foot and the shiny black shoes produces a startling scale incongruity. I shot from an angle to avoid getting my own reflection in the image. That angle makes the picture work on still another level as it brings into play the surrounding buildings reflected on both the shiny shoe leather and on the glass of the shop window. Reflections are distortions of reality. The huge foot is also a distortion. Together, they create a surrealistic view of what a passing Peruvian might take for granted. I saw still another incongruity in those bold words they tell us these shoes are made by hand, yet they are written upon on a foot.

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Phil Douglis27-Aug-2010 21:18
You see this image well, River. The primary incongruity is the size of the plaster foot -- it is much larger than the shoes that surround it. A naked foot compared to empty dress shoes is also incongruous. So is the reflection that covers the image and intensifies its surreal character. And of course, the hand lettered writing on the foot is incongruous as well.
Guest 27-Aug-2010 19:44
The contrast in this picture between the white foot and black shoses definitely caught my eye at the first. I also notice that foot appears to be very big, bigger than any of those shoes. Perhaps this is also a part of incongruity in this photo. Finally the the foot is amusing that makes me laugh.
Phil Douglis06-Dec-2005 19:39
An expressive photograph is supposed to make the viewer think, feel, and imagine. If this image has done that for you, it is doing it's job well. Thank you, AJ.
Guest 06-Dec-2005 17:53
it took me a while to appreciate, but the "mano" written on the foot really caught my eye, since then I've been looking and thinking: the white amongst the black, the huge amongst the normal, the matt amongst the glossy; and what a foot, it's like some Roman sculpture: a foot you could never imagine in a shiny black leather shoe! . . . and I had to think of the the words: wear shoes, because feet are ugly!
Thank you Phil for really making me THINK about your images (and hopefully more about mine)
Phil Douglis21-Aug-2005 18:25
Thanks still again, Ramma, for noting incongruities previously unmentioned. Sometimes we are overwhelmed by the prime incongruity, in this case the huge bare foot amidst the shiny shoes, that we overlook the secondary yet still important sub-incongruities such as the "we have the shoe for you" idea, and the masking of imperfections concepts you have mentioned.
ramma 21-Aug-2005 10:53
Covering or Masking imperfections
Ramma 21-Aug-2005 10:52
its almost as if the shoe shop owner is trying to say, no matter how large or bizzare your foot size is, we have a shoe for you. Although the foot is made of white stone, the nails seem to have gathered dirt, which can be easily covered by wearing 1 of thier *Sparkling* shoes. Brings out 1 of the realities of life as to how we are so used to covering or making our imperfections !
Phil Douglis23-Dec-2004 19:08
As others have already noted here, Mikel, this image is utterly surreal. Its incongruity is intensified by the superimposition of a normal street scene, reflected in that window, upon a decidedly abnormal pairing of a huge bare foot, emblazoned with the words "hand made," contrasting to four shiny, comparatively small shoes, each of them also reflecting the buildings of Lima on their surfaces. As you say, a window full of paradoxes.
Guest 23-Dec-2004 17:14
It is a scale incongruity incongruity and all the ones that you say too, but for me the only fact of a bear foot between the shoes is the biggest one of all, and yes, it is funny that the hand made anouncement is on a bear foot, it gives it a paradoxal point of view too.
Guest 04-Dec-2004 17:19
It translates as "Fine shoes hand made".
Phil Douglis03-Dec-2004 20:43
I agree about taste, Clara. Taste is like art. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. By the way, you are Spanish. Can you translate the message on that foot for me. I think it says something about made by hand. (Which in itself would be an incongruity when written on a foot!)
Guest 03-Dec-2004 18:20
Good taste in La Pequena Habana of Miami is bad taste in Barcelona. So, I don't know anymore what is taste and what is not!! (I have my feelings however). Yes, the image revels the incoungrous.
Phil Douglis01-Dec-2004 23:52
Bad taste in Miami might not be bad taste in Lima. Yes, the foot is bizarre. It is surreal. It is intended to stimulate the imaginations of all who buy shoes in Lima and all who will look at my picture of it.
Guest 01-Dec-2004 23:29
i find the foot bizarre, so i don't think I would buy anything there. yes your image shows clearly the incongruity, as it shows the bad taste of the shop owners.
Phil Douglis13-Nov-2004 04:35
I see what you are feeling here, Nut. You are imagining yourself with a big naked white feet like this, and wondering how it would ever fit into one of those black shoes, right? You are torn between thinking about this as both reality and fantasy, aren't you? I am enjoying your thoughts, Nut. But please don't drive yourself nuts thinking about it!
(Sorry about that pun. I love puns.)

In any event, I am glad this image has triggered a series of bizarre thoughts in your head. That's my job as an expressive photographer, isn't it?
nut 13-Nov-2004 04:21
Shoe Store" window in Lima gave me the surrealistic when I saw them last time.
But I always come back to this "Shoe" in many time. Incongruity between black shoes and this big white one give me one idea. Huge white foot must be pound on himself. This photo
make me think more and more. To me, I am thinking about myself. If I have only one naked foot and I have to join in high society with black shoes like this. What can I feel?

In this photo give me a view of window. If I am a huge white foot, so i am watching outside
the window. That is nice. I think I am a white foot. It's not possible to be, but it's possible
to think. And I can see the view through this window.
Phil Douglis06-Nov-2004 19:22
An amusing interpretation, Nut.
nut 06-Nov-2004 07:05
Scale, color, reflection on black shoes and bold words on huge white foot, all together gave
me one idea about this shoe store. That's "Whatever my feet look like, I always get a nice shiny black shoes from here". All incongruities told me this.
Phil Douglis31-Oct-2004 21:09
Thanks, Maureen. You have me in good company.
Guest 31-Oct-2004 14:13
By the shoemaker, the photographer and God!
Phil Douglis31-Oct-2004 03:44
Crafted to precision? By the shoemaker? The photographer? Or both?
Nice pun, Maureen!
Guest 31-Oct-2004 03:16
Aaahhh....crafted to perfection!
Piotr Siejka10-Jun-2004 18:57
Superb. Love the reflection...
Phil Douglis13-Feb-2004 19:22
Once again, Cecilia, you have offered a photographic analysis here that goes well beyond the norm to tell us why and how this image worked for you. As a photographer, my greatest reward is to make an image that seizes the imaginations of my viewers. This photo has apparently accomplished its task in your case. It would be wonderful if I could tell you that I thought of all of these things myself as I picked up my camera to make this shot. But I didn't. I was walking quickly along a busy Lima street with a large tour group. I stopped in my tracks in front of this window and made three shots from three different angles. The scale incongruity of that big white foot grabbed my interest. I really did not notice those surreal reflections, nor did I fully realize the incongruity of those words on the foot until later. I was shooting on instinct. As my hero, the great photojournalist/surrealist Henri-Cartier Bresson, has said, "In photography you don't think. You act." I acted, and I'm glad I did.
Cecilia Lim 13-Feb-2004 18:17
I really love everything about this image. It is working on so many levels:
.. The Composition's great - the subject is in the middle, yet not predictably boring because it is taken at an angle
..Your Vantage point - gives it depth and perspective, also creating dynamism by implying direction and immitating the view seen by a person walking by, reminding us "Hey ! That's what you'll need if you're gonna be walking!"
.. It has Context - the reflection tells us about the location and environment without being descriptively explicit or distracting
.. The amazing Incongruity between the foot and shoes in terms of white and black, matt and shiny, distortion and controlled elegant form, naked and covered, and
.. Especially the great Humour found in the irony of the message written on the foot.

In short, it looks great, tells a story and tickles the brain. I really enjoyed it!
Phil Douglis26-Jan-2004 22:45
Guess who I was thinking of as I took this picture in Lima? Your own focus on whimsical window displays must be contagious.
Carol E Sandgren26-Jan-2004 05:54
I do love this whimsical image! And i think it would even have worked without the lucky reflection as wel! My kind of humor!! I love it!
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