Please click the photo to enlarge
The image was, in fact, developed from backlit cotinus leaves.
In The Little Book of Contemplative Photography, the author, Howard Zehr, suggests an exercise that I find very helpful, especially to enhance my understanding of images – including my own. He suggests that once a week we spend at least 10 minutes with a selected photograph and then, he instructs;
‘As you do, consider three topics in this order:
1 I see (Describe: examine each object, each detail, the light etc. The associate: what are you reminded of by the shapes, juxtapositions etc?)
2 I feel (What do you feel as you look at the image?)
3 I think (Interpret and analyse)’
Obviously it is intended that the sequence can be applied to any photograph or work of art (or, indeed, any aspect of life!) but, for now, I invite you to examine the two pictures of the small sculpture below:
I recommend Zehr’s book. It is a slim volume, cheap, and includes a number of useful exercises.
Sometimes pictures within pictures emerge unexpectedly and uninvited! For example, the image below began life as a photo of some strands of seaweed. I decided to remove the background and allow just a few of the strands to form a random, abstract pattern. I also decided to use just two contrasting colours. The result was the first image below:
But when I rotated the image 90 degrees clockwise (Image 2) I distinctly saw a fish and the head of an old fishseller. Or is it just my imagination?
We all – each and every one of us – see the world differently. For example, a group of individuals looking at the same object, scene or picture will each see something different; how different will depend upon the varied life experiences in relation to the subject matter, that is, what they bring to the seeing process.
The point is, there is a distinction between LOOKING and SEEING and when creating a picture it is the exploration of this difference that interests me. Rather like peeling an apple or orange. I need to remove the outer layer to get to the substance. Direct representation is seldom sufficient. I need to get beyond the outer appearance to the inner meaning, the essence of the subject matter.
The Viennese photographer Ernst Haas wrote, ‘A picture is the expression of an impression’. Frequently I ask, ‘Why do I want to take this photograph? Why have I stopped? What feeling, what impression has the subject evoked in me? How can I best capture and express that feeling?’ If I cannot answer these questions satisfactorily I have nothing to contribute; no creative energy with which to enliven or interpret; nothing to say.