Every photograph has a story behind it. But while that story is told by the photographer, it’s up to the viewer to decide what it wants to see. In most cases, in daily life, when we see something there is no explanatory text or description.
Take the photograph below for example I took of a man playing guitar in a park.
The photos throws up lots of questions, some basic ones such as: who is he ? Where is he playing? And perhaps some more complex ones too : What kind of music is he playing ? Maybe some blues or rock music ? How long has he been standing there ? We will never know, but maybe he was still there when those leaves were still on the tree.
So we make our own assumptions about a picture based on our experiences, trying to make sense of it. And this is definitely something that I have learned along the way as a photographer - while I can try to orientate you to see in a particular way, ultimately interpretation is outside my control and over to you.
But there are tricks that I can use to highlight some particular elements of the photo I want you to see ! For example in the picture below which is part of collection of photographs from a National Lottery funded project project.
Although this picture was taken at night and therefore on the darker side, I deliberately accentuated the shadows so as to highlight key protagonists with the light from the flames and to hide others. I illuminated the pavement to create a more atmospheric picture. You can almost make out the man in the high visibility jacket that the man with the horned hat and velvet glove is pointing to. What is going here ? Who are these people ? Why is that guy pointing towards that man ?
Ultimately, this picture has a lot of elements to consider that, if exposed differently, would create a different balance. Would you have noticed the red velvet glove if the scene was brighter ? In other words, what I tried to do here is to create an interesting picture with some mystery, that raises questions, and asks the viewer to come up with their own story as to what is going on.
More “Behind the pictures” to come in the future ! And all best wishes for the new year !