This photo centres around a single facial expression and builds a whole story around it. It is powerful because the emotion is very recognizable and captured succinctly.
The thing about facial expressions is that it mostly happens in a split second. And so we value the work of photographers like these to immortalize a single, precious moment of truth so that the story can be perpetrated to millions later.
So we take this picture with the lion in an obvious look of despair and imagine the before and after and the story of his situation.
Yet, expressions happen in progression and a single cross-section within that progression may tell a story very different from what it appears. For example, this could be the look of the lion in mid-sneeze as he sucks in a staccato of air. (I don’t know if lions sneeze but there’s a very famous video of…
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