I am surrounded by photography. I work in it. I breathe it. It is all over my walls, and my computer. I am constantly amazed by it, and always trying to quantify it.
Today, we went to the library and I borrowed a couple of back issues of Australian Photography magazine. The one in particular that stirred me today was August, 2005, for your reference. Firstly, we have a quote from a letter to the editor, by Peter Nolan.
He writes “Photography is basically a performance activity. Some people may keep private diaries of photos in locked albums, but in general even the casual snapper snaps in the expectation that their photos will be looked at. If the casual snapper becomes more serious about photography, their desire to have someone look at their work becomes correspondingly stronger.”
He’s very right in this point. We all shoot (and scrap, but today it’s about shooting) to share. To elicit responses, good or bad. To share information. To record, for future purposes. Why take a photo with no intention of ever viewing it again?
Further on in the magazine is a section about entering competitions. Page 61 – it is unclear who wrote the text for this section, although is is under the Australian Photographic Society’s banner. Two points jumped out at me.
“Most photographic opportunities are an emotional response to a visual situation……. your eyes should place an imaginary frame around that part of the scene that stimulated your emotional response….. Will you pass control of your image by the set-in-concrete artistic rules of the left-side-of-the-brain and allow the automatic features of your camera to take charge, producing another formula image? You first recognised the photographic opportunity through your emotional response to the subject and you should continue along that route. Many images are still-born through delaying the exposure and allowing the left-side-of-the-brain rules to create another image “clone”!”
Further on in the page, under the heading Bad Habits is the following bit of wisdom.
“A collection of competition and exhibition images show little diversity in presentation, photographic technique and individual style. The left-side-of-the-brain style prevalent in present-day images leaves a viewer with the impression all images have been produced by the one photographer…. both snap-shooters and skilled photographers invariably present images with the same dimensions as a 35mm negative. Image-formats and compositions seldom vary. Both snap shooters and skilled photographers allow their automatic camera to determine the artistic parameters of their images.”
Ok, so where is this all going you may ask? I’m not exactly sure where. It certainly is food for thought though. I was hoping to get some input from everyone else as to what emotions this stirs. We’re a creative lot, and I rarely see “clone” photographs. However, the challenge to further diversify is still there. So now, it’s no longer the need to shoot professional looking images. The skill required is to shoot artistically CREATIVE images. Different images. Unique.
Here’s one more bite for you to munch over. This one is from “Expressions” by Donna Smylie and Allison Tyler Jones. It was their first book, Designing with Photos, that made me think, I can DO that. And I DID do that. This short snippet, however, made me stop and think for a long time.
“A universally appealing image says something larger and more universal about the subject. If universal images could talk, they would say more abstract and broad things, such as “innocence” or “new”….. When you create a universal image, you create art that happens to be your kid. When others view those images, rather than comments about how big your child is getting, you will see an immediate emotional response to the image as it invokes universal emotions that we all have about babies, family and life.”
And this part, tied in with the other quotes about performance art and emotional responses, is IT. It is what I’m about. It is the reason why I always try to be there when someone sees new photos of mine. I want to see their reaction. To see if they GET IT. If they don’t, why not? Is it them? Is it me? I know my father is not big on this kind of universal image. He prefers the documentation photo – and that’s ok. That’s him. But I still try. To see if images pack more than a punch. And so I will continue in my search for emotional responses. Universal images. And above all, the ultimate freedom of creative expression.
And to thank you for reading this far, here’s a couple of what I call universal images. Ones that create an emotional response in me, without any identification. Please, tell me how you respond to them 🙂