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How do we see photographs?

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  • How do we see photographs?

    I'm always interested in what people have to say about photographs in general, including my own. Yet I don't see much about content or context. Mostly it's about aesthetics or how the viewer would like the picture to look. That seems a bit strange since the picture has been taken and there doesn't seem much that can be done if we take the image as being a capturing of the moment as seen by the photographer.
    Yet I am willing to learn.
    Show me what it is I need to do.

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  • #2
    There is a can of worms. My first thought was why was the photograph taken was it because of aesthetics or other emotion. I would be much more inclined to share a picture because of aesthetics. I have forgotten what my next thought was while writing down the first. Books are written on the art of, and the technical aspect of, and the post editing of photography. My verbal and writing skills are not particularly good. (the english teacher would indicate that he didn't want me in his class when he entered and I would leave) Discussing the motivation for taking the photograph would be like hard work for someone not that literate but I would be happy to read other peoples perceptions.

    I would not have taken the above picture even though I can see some people being emotively attracted to the suggested scene and imagined story.
    Would or did you take this picture?
    Better a full bottle in front of me
    than a full frontal lobotomy.


    • #3
      As I explained to my great grand daughter, worms are just another animal. They do good. She gets that and nurtures them. I had a weird English teacher as well. Mr Cross. Although he was a bastard ( I wrote that on the blackboard once and miss-spelt it ). He criticized me for miss-spelling. There's value in that. He died of a heart attack on the golf course. A fitting end. He loved golf. Whether you would or would not have taken the picture isn't the issue. The picture exists. You have seen it. I took it. That's where the communication starts. Aesthetics is a valued and legitimate subject matter for any art form. But it's not the only one. Many artists go for another level. Some photographs my test the beliefs of the viewer. Some might even seem distasteful. Some might create important discussions about values or beliefs. Some might be provocative, erotic, dramatic, humorous, sarcastic. If we are to appreciate all aspects of photography we can open our minds to all possibilities and try to understand them. It's not an intellectual thing, it's just being game, brave, different, open and sometimes a bit weird. Keep talking, Hans. Just say what you're thinking. I'm eager to listen


      • #4
        There's no one way I look at photographs as there's no one way or reason a photographer takes the shot. I know instantly whether I like something or not, (don't always know why instantly), but photographs that capture my attention I'll generally linger longer on and think about why I like it, or maybe it's a subject I have a particular interest in.

        Your shot of the art work I think is very clever. The attention drawn to the missing appendage of the stature and that will raise a smile from most. Then the religious context from the Mother and Child in the background makes you wonder what the connection between them and the statue is? Could be none at all of course and it's just the ironic positioning of the elements of the image to make an interesting composition set by the photographer.

        To me I instantly like the shot.. thinking.. " Nice set of b... pity about your d*ck" ! "Must have been a nasty fall, were you running away from the family"?
        It's the little things!

        Cheers, Greg C.


        • #5
          You're right, Greg. If there was a formula we'd have heard of it by now. But there may be an approach which is applicable for all of us, a generalisation that we can apply or already do apply that produces the effect we want.

          We all usually have a reasonable vision; ie, we see things, but what goes through our head when we look is different for all of us. That's why photographs are so diverse, and opinions as well.

          In this simple scene its not hard to see what's going on. But each of us might add our own version, emphasis, biasses, judgements and criticisms.

          That's what makes the photograph come to life. It's a rendition of the past yet it seems to gain its own life as each person looks at it.

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          • #6
            What gets me is why we bother.

            Lots of people see the same stuff as I do yet they are not taken on by some compulsion to pull out a camera and take a picture.
            I'm sure we have all been asked the question: "Why are you taking a picture of that?" or "What are you photographing?" and the inquirer looks around as if blind to the imagery you see and choose to photograph.

            Sure, we can understand about people, pretty things, animals, scenery and architecture, but for some its the mundane things that attract. Life at its most ordinary, about which we can ponder the circumstances and possibilities.

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            • #7

              For me, its curiosity. A voyeur if you please. Like a kid seeing a place for the first time but every time is a first time, like Ground Hog Day. I'm a sticky beak.

              The next step is the IDEA of what it might look like in a photograph. I know it won't look the same. I've learnt that lesson, so I'll go with what I'd like it to look like. Somewhere in my brain is an IDEA developing. Sometimes it happens in a split second, other times its just a seed that will grow as I look around, connect with memories, add and subtract, 'size up' the situation.

              And how right you are: It IS the little things that count. You can have all the intentions in the world to take a shot and something catches your eye that you decide to include or exclude and the whole idea shifts to another plane.

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              • #8
                interesting collection of a dying genre here. I like the first one too. looks like mum is showing dad the offspring but dad not keen. looks like he cant make more either. well spotted and executed
                Stephen Davey. Nikon Shooter


                • #9
                  Originally posted by avkomp View Post
                  interesting collection of a dying genre here. I like the first one too. looks like mum is showing dad the offspring but dad not keen. looks like he cant make more either. well spotted and executed
                  Did I miss something here, Steven? Who's dying? Not me, last last time I looked. Can't be the subject matter. No smells there. As for the genre, can you tell me why you think it's the genre? I'd hate to,be behind the times.