Boyd Fortin, Thirteen Year Old Rattlesnake Skinner, Sweetwater, Texas, March 10, 1979 by Richard Avedon

Boyd Fortin, Thirteen Year Old Rattlesnake Skinner, Sweetwater, Texas, March 10, 1979 by Richard Avedon

This photo by Richard Avedon was taken in Sweetwater, Texas, March 10, 1979. He was well known for his portraiture due to the contrast and quality of pictures because the older model camera he used, which was a 8×10 Deardorff. He chose to photograph working class people in the western United States instead of the idolized cowboys and pretty women.
An important aspect of the photo is the title that includes the boy’s name, Boyd Fortin, which respects his identity. The picture shows a young boy with a snake that he is almost done skinning. He has a blood-stained apron on with a black shirt underneath. His left hand is wrapped in snake intestines that stretch out across his torso up to where his right hand is holding the end of the snake. His body language suggests that he is showing the snake off. The expression on his face in blank and is not fazed by the dead animal. Through this image, Avedon wanted to show Americans the circumstances that their neighbors go through. His goal was to have people see their children in the eyes of Boyd. During this time many products in America were produced by people and resources in the west, but these people were no acknowledged. The snake skin represents the shoes or the belt that a wealthy businessman would wear and how interconnected it is with the oppressed classes.



  1. I like this picture a lot, I agree with your remarks of the goal. I also feel as if the fact that this picture is in black and white promotes simplicity, even though we know the actions are not simple. The fact that his eyebrows are raised and arched in shows force but he also gives the impression of not being scared. There may not be any tears but there is also no smile. It’s like “im doing your dirty work” and like you mentioned giving some recognition to the oppressed classes.

  2. I enjoyed this picture, I agree with your opinions on the goal to an extent. I believe that the picture being in black and white versus color emphasizes how clean the photo is and shows it in its raw form. Even though we both know that this is not a clean job. The facial expression of the boy shows how determined he is about his job and that he is not afraid to get work done. Giving some recognition to the oppressed classes proving that they are needed within society.

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