Christmas Tree...Oh Christmas Tree!

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Uploaded 14 Dec 2011 — 51 favorites
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© James Wiley
Views 490
Likes 15
Favorites 51
Comments 50
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Photo license: © All rights reserved

In my 'Photojournalism' collection.

Is this photograph optimistic or pessimistic? You be the judge!

From my B&W days as a photojournalist/sports photographer for newspapers and Canadian/Associated Press. Voted National Feature Picture of the Year (Canada), 1982. Shot for The Winnipeg Free Press

50 responses

  • Regenia Brabham

    Regenia Brabham gave props (14 Dec 2011):

    Perhaps a little of both. I love the mood and the grain!

  • Roy M. Gunnels

    Roy M. Gunnels gave props (14 Dec 2011):

    Sparse, the young man in the back a bit sinister,so much to interpret in this image,brilliant work.

  • Heather Mellon

    Heather Mellon gave props (14 Dec 2011):

    This has an 'out of the box' view of Christmas that I love.. thought provoking and very interesting!

  • Ted Anderson

    Ted Anderson (Deleted) gave props (15 Dec 2011):

    Good question, regarding this complex image. It pulls you right in. Pretty amazing!

  • Nicolette de Joncaire

    Nicolette de Joncaire   gave props (15 Dec 2011):


  • Donna Mullins

    Donna Mullins (Deleted) gave props (15 Dec 2011):

    a lot to take in from this photo. the room being so bare is sad .the mother has a worried look about her and the kids show very little emotion. the photo itself though is an amazing image on your part!

  • MindTheStep

    MindTheStep said (16 Dec 2011):

    Wonderful!! very very emotional.

  • Elysia Morrison

    Elysia Morrison (Deleted) said (16 Dec 2011):


  • vonAsh

    vonAsh said (16 Dec 2011):

    I think it depends on who you're looking at in the photo. Woman: it's like she's thinking, "I'm not sure how we're going to get by this year, but we always do; we have what we need and that's enough." Girl: she looks comfortable; loved and content. Boy: he looks like he's going to grow up to be someone a little colder and a lot less connected to his humanity.

  • Jean Pierre Vacherot

    Jean Pierre Vacherot (Deleted) gave props (17 Dec 2011):


  • Urbano Desprini

    Urbano Desprini (Deleted) gave props (17 Dec 2011):

    Terrific Shot !! Wonderful scene !!

  • Giovanni Ferraro

    Giovanni Ferraro (Deleted) gave props (17 Dec 2011):

    It's amazing!

  • Lisa Granberg

    Lisa Granberg said (18 Dec 2011):

    Wow! I really like this pic!!

  • dan brandi

    dan brandi gave props (19 Dec 2011):

    Interesting moods portrayed here..within context I would say both pessimism and optimism are displyed.

  • Kevin Sawyer

    Kevin Sawyer gave props (21 Dec 2011):


  • Carlos Aviles

    Carlos Aviles said (24 Dec 2011):

    It depends. Up front is family, woman and girl. Back seat the tree, which for me represents consumerism. The kid? Well, he is stuck between the 2 and has to make a choice. Optimistic becasue nothing is chained here. Anyone can move.

  • Andrew Kelly

    Andrew Kelly gave props (24 Dec 2011):

    I love the man in the background. This tells a fine story.

  • Anuchit Sundarakiti

    Anuchit Sundarakiti gave props (25 Dec 2011):


  • Albrecht Schlotter

    Albrecht Schlotter (Deleted) gave props (26 Dec 2011):


  • mark yugawa

    mark yugawa   gave props (27 Dec 2011):

    wow, this is one of those shots that keeps you intrigued. there can be many interpretations with this shot. exactly why it's so fantastic.

  • Becky J. Parkinson

    Becky J. Parkinson said (27 Dec 2011):

    I'm going with optimistic. The young girl looks so content sitting on her mother's lap. The mother is thinking, but her expression is not unpleasant or sad. The boy is aloof and emotionless, as teen boys try to be (I have three of them right now). He is watching his mother and sister and thinking - maybe remembering the days he used to sit his mother's lap. He is cynical about it now. The room is sparse, so they don't have a lot in the way of material goods, but there are a few presents under the tree. I think the mother has done what she can to make it a happy holiday for her children, despite their poverty. It is going to be a meaningful holiday.

  • Kaki J. Luitjens

    Kaki J. Luitjens said (28 Dec 2011):

    This is awesome!

  • Alwyn Scott Turner

    Alwyn Scott Turner said (29 Dec 2011):

    This interior documentary portrait makes a statement to the emotional realities of the characters in the scene, and the cultural detail within the image is well composed...this image is neither optimistic or pessimistic in its point of view...but rather, an historical perspective and an honest view of ordinary cultural life - where the characters in the drama were allowed to pose themselves. A slice of reality that reveals a larger format of truth.

  • Stefano Zeminian

    Stefano Zeminian gave props (1 Jan 2012):

    raw! fantastic!

  • Suzie Jay

    Suzie Jay gave props (2 Jan 2012):

    What an interesting image!

  • William Garvey

    William Garvey gave props (2 Jan 2012):

    You got the shot perfect, right down to the tile floor.

  • Fred S.

    Fred S. gave props (5 Jan 2012):

    I could easily write a full-length essay on the life I imagine these people to be living. Wonderfully haunting.

  • Leanna Lomanski

    Leanna Lomanski gave props (7 Jan 2012):

    Thought-provoking and gritty -- excellently composed!

  • Carl Chick

    Carl Chick said (9 Jan 2012):

    I see it as being neither. Very surreal and lonely in its feel, however, which may tilt it a little toward the pessimistic side. Either way, it's a great composition

  • Andrea Petersen

    Andrea Petersen gave props (18 Jan 2012):

    I find it optimistic that they have a decorated Christmas tree .. Yes, the room is sparce but it is clean and they have each other... My family went through an experience in January of 1951 when our house burned down on a bitterly cold day in winter when I was 7 years old and we lost most of our belongings, but worst of all my youngest brother who was 5 years old at the time died as a result of the fire..Material possessions do not compare to losing a life...All said this is a great picture and it makes you think that sometimes we in America have too many possessions...and there is nothing wrong with space and room to move around.

  • Elyseo

    Elyseo gave props (23 Jan 2012):

    La trovo pessimistica per la drammaticità della scena, ottima la composizione anche se il ragazzo e tagliato avrei preferito vedrlo per intero, come terzo elemento. bravo!

  • Kathy Slamen

    Kathy Slamen gave props (27 Jan 2012):

    Beautiful photo! You truly have a gifted eye!

  • Michele Randell

    Michele Randell gave props (4 Feb 2012):

    The little girl and her expression is about hope and love and I think that in itself overrides any pessimistic elements in the image. I say optimistic but yes an image that makes me think..Thank you

  • Jon Helgason

    Jon Helgason gave props (12 Feb 2012):

    thought provoking

  • Carlo Pagan

    Carlo Pagan gave props (15 Feb 2012):

    Fantastic composition!!

  • Nicolette de Joncaire

    Nicolette de Joncaire   gave props (24 Mar 2012):

    I hate this photo but it is really brilliant

  • Ronnie Ginnever

    Ronnie Ginnever gave props (10 May 2012):


  • Elultimodeseo

    Elultimodeseo said (7 Jun 2012):

    love it!! :) and i love pessimistic shots :)

  • sandip aine

    sandip aine gave props (11 Sep 2012):

    Good take ...

  • Photo Shack

    Photo Shack (Deleted) gave props (9 Oct 2012):

    The boy's crossed arms indicate his discomfort. He has nowhere to sit. The mother is vaguely amused at something off camera left. The girl is half smiling, as though the whole situation is a bit amusing. The holiday appears a bit contrived but as though it were meant to be...we're going to have Christmas regardless. Excellent work and worthy of the award!

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey gave props (4 May 2013):

    I just found is so brilliant. somewhat Arbus. It is so filled with irony and a strong metaphor for what Christmas can mean for some people. a big WOW!

  • Randy Turoff

    Randy Turoff gave props (4 Jul 2013):

    The realism is so cool. Reminds me of NYC and LA photos from the 70s.

  • Lynn E. Harvey

    Lynn E. Harvey gave props (17 Jul 2013):

    Voted, I think again!!! have to write again on this, one of my very favorites and Museum worthy!

  • Susan B. Griffith

    Susan B. Griffith   said (27 Jul 2013):

    Capturing those memorable slices of life.

  • Joerg Schlagheck

    Joerg Schlagheck gave props (1 Aug 2013):

    This sticks out!

  • Gerard Sweeney

    Gerard Sweeney gave props (4 Aug 2013):

    great shot, still not sure which, a Mona Lisa moment...

  • rekha nag

    rekha nag gave props (6 Aug 2013):

    Excellent photography! Emotions well captured!!

  • Joy B

    Joy B gave props (6 Aug 2013):


  • Christopher Griesé

    Christopher Griesé gave props (15 Aug 2013):

    This is such an intriguing and thought provoking image. Without going into details, there's so much I like about this ... the composition, juxtapositions, expressions & body language, stark environment ... it all comes together so compellingly. Kudos! It's hard to say with certainty, because I like so many of them, but this might be my favorite shot in your collection here.

  • John Linton

    John Linton gave props (5 Sep 2013):

    Rockin' JPG's Theme Park (pricelessly).

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