The double portrait of Mel Brooks and Carl Reiner (slideshow item #14) is terrifically composed. The symmetry is loose rather than rigid, a nod to the slightly unhinged personalities that the comedy duo is known for. And yet, each vertical half of the photo is distinct in fore- and background, underlining the individuality each man maintains in their creative partnership.
The portrait of Cindy Sherman (#16) is a bold and effective use of prop. Obviously the fake boobs strike you first with eye-catching shock value. Upon remaining with the picture, and perhaps only recognizing Cindy Sherman—who appears here without her signature costume makeup—after reading the caption, we see that the prop is a sly inversion of and commentary upon her art, which uses much more realistic props and costumes to present Sherman as myriad colorful characters.
Photo #9 foregrounds a lone firefighter working to quell the California Rim fire. We see him in crisp focus, clearly engaged in active work: He holds a radio to his ear in one hand and a large hoe in the other. But in the focal and compositional margins of this central image, we notice a cluster of other firefighters on the left of the frame, and what appears to be a fire engine or supply rig on the right. The contrast of the lone firefighter in the front and his team in the back serves to underscore both the individual and the collective risk and heroism involved.
In this photograph we see a young child waiting for her schoolbus on an empty rural road. The tilt-shift effect is used, effectively, to lend the girl and her surroundings a toy doll effect, almost as if the girl’s life were a diorama in which she was placed, dressed, staged, and moved around—by her parents, her teachers, her bus driver, and the other adult authority figures in her life. The fact that we cannot see details of her face, eyes, or expression furthers the effect.