Monday, January 30, 2012

Reflecting on How Do We Read a Photograph

As part of the course materials a shiny new copy of "The Photograph" by Graham Clarke arrived. I've made a slow start of reading it, it's been a number of years now since I did any serious reading for study rather than for pure fun. I just finished the second chapter referenced in the title above and it really got me thinking about how I read a photo. I've mentioned earlier that I don't have much of a critical eye when it comes to photos. I know what I like and dislike, but hard it hard to communicate and express why. I'm naturally quite a concise and scientific person and I'm trying to open myself up to really examining why I feel the way I do.

This chapter immediately brought to mind an idea from "The Wee Free Men" by Terry Pratchett. The main character Tiffany Aching is a young girl who has decided to become a witch. Her first encounter with another witch leads to her learning to open her eyes and then open her eyes again. Sort of second sight as it were. I feel this is what I'm missing in my critical examination of photographs. I do the initial opening of my eyes and note the colours, composition, overall feel of the photo, but I don't take it further. Why has the photographer chosen to frame the photo as they have, why against a particular back drop, even so simple as why portrait or landscape or colour versus black and white.

My challenge to myself is that for my next Photographer Friday I want to really start developing what I'm now calling my second sight.

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