A Stranger In the House
When a man loves a woman he will build four walls around her, and she will be the sole subject of his fascination, or at least his devotion, for the rest of his life. Such was the union of Eleanor and her husband of 63 years, Harry Callahan, one of the greatest and most influential American photographers of the 20th century. Callahan’s photographs, set in gelatin silver print, lend a holy quality to every day domestic scenes– Eleanor standing by the bedroom window, Eleanor by the hearth of what looks like a young couple’s house upon first moving in, Eleanor sitting on a blanket in the grass with Barbara, their only daughter and the only other woman that Callahan let in his pictures. He protects her by presenting her in the best light, her hourglass figure, nude and turned away from the camera looks like a pearl cello against the shadow, and her raven hair drapes in thick waves against the rippling water. “I never really thought about it,” Eleanor said about talking about posing for her husband, “I always trusted him to do the right thing.” Surely, this type of trust and intimacy is reserved only for those who spend every day of 63 years together.
Not necessarily, says Gonzalo Benard. In his “B Shot by a Stranger” satellite project Benard shoots people from all over the world via the Internet, using the webcam as a voyeuristic tool. Lest this sound pervy, these strangers have invited him in to follow them while they go about their lives in their living rooms, their bedrooms, their bathrooms.
Rather than go out in the world and try to get noticed, Benard’s subjects brought someone from somewhere out in the world to see them in their most vulnerable states, where they feel comfortable and free from judgement. In return, Benard has learned about the various rituals and habits that we all construct to get through life, when it only seems like no one’s looking.
Gonzalo Benard is a Portuguese photographer based in Paris. “B Shot By A Stranger” project, including where to buy the resulting book, can be found at www.gbenard.com