the photograph and i
two things occur when we read a photograph. one is the subject is being documented and the other is that our minds assign it an order within our own archetypes and symbolic meanings to create an emotional response. a puppy dog is cute that is pretty much a given for most people. it says ‘this is what i am’, but that is the subject’s voice speaking. the emotional response or perception are the elements such as light, composition and how this symbol or archetype is presented in a photograph. that is the photographer’s voice. together with a variable balance they are the syntax of each image. an image on occasion is very obvious whether it is objective vs. subjective, but often images are obscured by our own desire for the photograph.
after ten years of teaching, one of the things i have learned is that discerning the difference or more accurately the origins of why we “like” an image is a complex synergy. because photography is a human action, no photograph is truly objective. each photographer imposes his or her experiences on an image however mature or naïve that experience. in the beginning i ask, “is the photographer speaking or is the subject speaking?” in the end it is our own experiences that apply meaning to an image.
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