if only!!!!

Started Apr 11, 2013 | Discussions thread
Fogsville Contributing Member • Posts: 577
Re: Any suggestions...

Daedalus2000 wrote:

But we can all start simple. A first step is to thing what elements we have in a picture and what do we try to say with them, what meaning do we want to send.

fwiw, one of the early assignments I give my beginning students at the start of each term (I teach in a university art department in a photo and media program), is to cut out an advertisement from a magazine (it cannot have any written text nor the name of any product within the image) and write a 10-page essay on what they see.  I tell them to just write anything that comes to mind based on the elements in the image.  After the first few pages describing what they literally see, they then will go way beyond the surface of the image with their written description.

For the next three class sessions we talk about each image.  It's pretty amazing to listen to them discuss everything that evolves from looking at a single image.  One image can even sometimes take on a full class dialogue. They really get into it and get excited. And then later during the term, when it comes to critiquing their own photographs and important photographs from the past, they can converse quite eloquently.

Yes, this construct of signs and symbols and how we react to them certainly becomes part of our "DNA."  But it is a learned process, just like we have to learn language.  With every passing day our vocabulary and knowledge of language improves, no matter our age.  It's not something that we possess directly out of the womb.  We learn it.  And we learn it within a societal context (someone from Africa may interpret an image or object very different from someone from Canada, etc..)

Photography is communication.  Just as language is communication.  When you write or speak to someone, you construct your symbols (the letters of the words) so that the person you're addressing will understand you.  If you want them to think beyond the literal meaning of what you are trying to communicate, then you can use poetry or prose that allows them to construct meaning beyond the literal sense.  That is what art is about.  And that's what differentiates a photograph made to supplement an instructional manual versus a stylized 'art' image that may be purposely ambiguous and meant to provoke certain emotions in the viewer.

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