one pic - the power of symbols

Started Apr 12, 2013 | Discussions thread
Daedalus2000
Senior MemberPosts: 4,647
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The how and why
In reply to Fogsville, Apr 13, 2013

First of all I really welcome and appreciate your time commenting and challenging our amateur pictures. I just hoped you started with someone elses!

Now your points are of course valid, and let me just say that I took this picture many months ago, but I never considered it good enough to show it to the forum. But, given our discussion about semiotics, symbols etc, I thought I will present it as an example were simple symbols (shoe, heal, tattoo, tanline) can create specific reactions.

I have a couple of questions.  Those look to me like plastic chairs.  I can't help not thinking about the incongruity of plastic chairs juxtaposed against what appears to be a formal, expensive (or at least professing to be expensive) shoe of some kind.  Also they are right in my line of vision along with the wall or window ledge (we normally initially tend to look at the top third of a compositional frame and then we scan the rest of the image.) It makes me wonder what the significance of these plastic chairs might be.

Ok very good point, so let me give you some context. It is 11am, I am drinking my coffee. I see this very $exy (use of $ is to avoid getting blacklisted) lady coming in dressed in a very provocative way, completely unexpected for the time of day and the place. She sits behind me, the light is coming from the window so I know it will be very tough to get a good shot. I am sitting with my back to her... The only thing I can capture without getting a punch to my face, is the leg. I see it full of symbolism (the elements I mentioned earlier) but I also know that the background will be cluttered. But, I think it captures something interesting (to be discussed later), so I use a wide aperture to throw the background out of focus (as much as possible) and take the picture. So, no significance for the chairs, yes they are a distraction...

Also it appears that she has a tan line on her foot suggesting that she doesn't wear shoes like this often and instead perhaps wears casual running shoes as her daily shoe.  Also I ask myself why did the author choose to make this into a B+W image (the world is in color so I have to ask myself why is this in B+W and what is the meaning of it being in B+W.)

Well the tan line signifies the FAKE tan... One element of her effort to look good (more to follow).

I used B/W because the chairs were orange, so they would demand our attention.So I lighten them using an orange filter (in pp) Also, all the elements that are interesting (shoe, heal, tattoo, tanline) have strong shapes, so I hope with B/W they will come out.

The tattoo looks like a million tattoos I've seen and so I'm not sure what significance it has if any to me.  These days, women of all ages and backgrounds might have tattoos.  So it doesn't specifically signify age nor class status, either. So it's just kind of there, like her leg.  I've seen a lot of legs, too.

Ok, I come from a background where I have not seen many tattoos. So, to see a barb wire tattoo at this position is interpreted by me as a second element of looking good and even communicating a more provocative (permanent) side to her personality.. I will not analyse further, as I may get banned! (think S/M etc)

These are legitimate questions because it's what I literally see in the image.  And I'm not sure what I'm looking at here beyond a technically well executed image in B+W.  Is this part of a series of images?

They are legitimate questions and you are right the picture fails in many aspects, and that is why I did not post it before.

But the meaning for me is the following: Look at all the elements that a woman is using in a small portion of her body to communicate to us (men and women) how beautiful, sexy and adventurous she wants to be... The light from the window shows that she does that even during day time, not only in the evening/night in the club etc. Also, one may also want to discuss the "fakeness" of all these elements...

Now, of course I saw more elements in her that did the same thing (hair/make up/clothes etc) but of course I could not show them here. Sometimes this can be a problem as the photographer has a wider/deeper context and assumes that the viewers will have it as well. So he/she assumes that they will "get" the picture, when in reality there are not enough elements/info in the picture for the viewer to do so.

Anyway, this was my analysis of the how and the why I took the picture. It is not a great picture but it is a genuine effort to capture something about female communication through symbols and the reaction the rest of us may have to them. One of this elements has a strong effect on me, I will just say that and end the post!

Best, D

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