People who collect vernacular photos of people they don't know often collect, dare I use the word and risk my best friend grinding her teeth?...genres. There, I said it. Genres. An overused word. A word that often sounds as if it's given importance to something that just isn't important. So I'm going to use it and say one of the genres I collect are people cutting cakes. Basically, if I see a shot of someone cutting a cake I grab it. They almost always make me laugh.
Cutting the cake is a ceremony that we all seem to willingly put up with because we know we're going to score some cake at the end of all the nonsense. Weddings are notorious for raising cake cutting to a whole other realm. Cutting and sharing the cake takes on meanings well beyond the simple butter, eggs, and flour sitting on a table. The moment must be documented with photos. We are celebrating the couple, though most just want to know if it's white or chocolate cake and are already debating how long the marriage will last. Yeah, I'm a bit cynical.
No less popular is cutting the cake at birthday parties. Kids learn this at an early age. It's pretty much the whole reason for going to the party. The cake. It better be a good one or the word of the failure will run rampant through the school.
We have special knives for cutting the cake. Some people must put the cakes on special plates.
And then there's pot luck dinners where it's all self-serve. Sometimes the cake has already been cut by the time it's placed on the table amongst the other desserts. As each piece is taken away the remainder starts to look pathetic, sometimes caving in on itself so by the time you get a piece it no longer looks remotely like a piece. It looks like a mound. And because the cake was pre-cut there's no magic associated with it. We're sharing the cake, but not the moment. It becomes what it really is...just a cake.
The picture below is obviously a special cake, a special moment. You can barely see the actual knife being held by the man and woman. Though this looks like it was taken at an Italian restaurant the man looks like someone you'd find in a French New Wave film from the '60s. Meanwhile the boy looks right out of the suburbs in the '50s and he's anticipating getting his piece. The moment is secondary to him. It's all about the cake.
But here's what I really like about this shot. There's something missing in this picture. Something very obvious. Something that should be there. Can you find it?
Click on the image to see it larger.
And then there's this delightful shot where the two on the right are nearly giddy over the moment. Meanwhile, the woman cutting the cake takes this all very serious. For her it's an historical moment, or as my dad likes to say an "hysterical moment."