(originally posted 2/25/13)
Sometimes the simplest images can be the strongest. As a photographer, this is one of the biggest challenges, to create a simple image that is incredibly powerful. To me, this is where the true artisan starts to show itself and is something that I’m working hard to develop my skills in.
Maybe it’s just some strong color blocking, maybe it’s a simple pattern, or perhaps it’s texture. Sometimes it’s the absence of color or the absence of details (negative space) To me, a simple image is also one that gives the viewer more freedom to interpret the image however they choose. By not dictating or telling a specific “story”, by leaving parts of the “story” untold, the viewer is empowered to fill in the blanks and interpret the image based upon their life experiences. It’s my belief that having the viewer be able to fill in some blanks themselves, you will create a stronger connection between the viewer and your image, which to me is important. I want to connect with the viewers, elicit an emotional response, drive them to have an opinion about my work, and most of all, be engaged with my work.
But be beware, not everyone wants to “fill in the blanks” and interpret for themselves. Many folks are just as happy reading the complete story as it’s told to them and they don’t want to have to think about the work, just view and enjoy the story as it’s told. Don’t be offended if people “don’t get it” or don’t connect with your images. The hope is that there might be some other pieces of your work that will connect with them better.
There are no hard rules about what or how to construct a simple and strong image. Shooting abstracts or simple images, often times the “rules” don’t apply. For me shooting these types of images, I find that it’s more of a “gut” feeling about what feels good or what I like. I’ll go ahead and shoot something a few different ways and when I get home, if that gut feeling is still there and I think the image works, I’ll process it and share it.
The image above is a recent image that I just finished. It was shot during the summer of 2012 in Yellowstone National Park. As I was walking along the boardwalk between thermal pools, this scene caught my eye. It was the contrasting colors, the horizontal lines running through the scene, the other-worldly alage and rocks….all of that came together in my head as an image that I’d like to shoot. I like to think that it’s a fairly “simple” scene, there isn’t too much going on. I like to think it’s “strong” because of the bold colors and the strong horizontal elements in it. And, there is a bit of mystery to it for the viewer…..initially not exactly sure what it is, so it might grab their attention to try and puzzle out what they are looking at.