Silent Beauty – by Todd Young


Silent Beauty

Culver City, CA – November 2008


This image is one that I get an enormous amount of comments on.  Everything from, its “staged” to I can’t stop looking at it, to I like it but I could never own it or hang it on my wall.

I’ve been in the commercial photography world for over 25 years and consider myself lucky to have grown along with the technology.  From before the term “digital” had anything to do with photography, or much of anything for that matter, shooting large format film through to today where DSLR cameras have as much or more resolution and tonal range than film ever did.

This image was captured in a side alley behind the Academy of Beauty in Culver City.  This beauty school has been in Culver City for decades and has survived the gentrification of the downtown area.  This side alley separates the school and my favorite Mexican restaurant and cantina.  It was completely by happenstance that I walked down the alley after leaving the restaurant.  I almost always have some form of camera with me, and thankfully I at least had my Canon G10.  I thought about racing home and grabbing a different camera but knew there wasn’t enough time.  The light was already very soft in the narrow alley this late in the afternoon.  And, coming back the following day would not guarantee the “subject” would still be there.  I knew I had a unique image, the beauty school practice heads stacked up in the window like that.  The haunting eyes and the tape, the reflection in the glass of the building across the alley.  Just out of frame are mops leaning against the building drying and the schools trash cans.

I enjoyed the image and was quite happy with my luck coming across it, and with the technical aspects of the capture.  It wasn’t until a close friend saw it and commented to me about the meaning it had for her that I fully understood the power of the image.  Our friend has a severely autistic daughter, she is 14 years old and has never spoken.  It was our friend that titled the image, Silent Beauty.

Canon G10

1/125 second


ISO 200

28mm (equivalent)

Adobe Bridge / Camera RAW, Adobe Photoshop, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2


Todd Young