On July 31, 2012 at the London Olympics, South Korean fencer Shin A Lam lost the semifinal bout after a debatable judge's decision. After a tie was reached, Lam and her opponent competed in a sudden death bout. At the last second both fighters scored one point. Unfortunately, after a coin toss, Lam's opponent gained favor, so, of no fault of her own, Lam lost. In this case, a winner was not decided based on strength, wit, or ability, but rather, a strange twist in fate. This photo records a moment when the difference between winning and losing is not so black and white, but gray. This photo documents Shin A Lam's reaction to losing the bout. At first glance, the viewer can see Lam with her head in her hands, a gesture displaying distaste. This is moment is an example when there is not an obvious winner or loser; however, several elements of the photo create a clear difference between victory and defeat.
There is a strong contrast between the black and white in the photograph. White and black can be representative of winning and losing respectively. Traditionally, heroes are garbed in white while villains are plunged in black clothing. There is no gray in the picture, and the black and white do not mix which suggests that there is a huge divide between triumph and defeat. Lam's foil creates a vector pointing diagonally downward. This vector is symbolic of Lam's loss as she had a chance of winning, and through the progression of the bout, her chances of victory slowly decreased. In contrast, the backlighting on Lam casts her is a heroic light. However Lam did not win, but she only lost due to an unfavorable judge's decision. Through the contrast in colors, the use of vectors, and the lighting in the photograph illustrate the crystal clear difference between victory and defeat. When applying Deborah Tannen's essay, "There Is No Unmarked Women," the photograph of Lam can be further analyzed.