Have you ever used the phrase “it speaks to me”? It’s a fairly common phrase and one that most people understand what it means, even if they might not be able to agree on the exact definition for it. Most often its in reference to something creative, like music, photography, or design, something that can be emotive or evocative. I started pondering this concept last night as I was reviewing images from 2017 and wanted to share a couple of my thoughts.
Here are a few of my thoughts on the subject
- When something “speaks to you”, it typically means you’ve made a connection with it and that it resonates with you on some level
- What it says when it “speaks to me” always varies, it’s never the same.
- Sometimes it’s hard to articulate what exactly it’s saying or how it’s touched me
- How you make this connection usually varies. Sometimes it’s cerebral, sometimes it’s emotional
- What level you connect at typically varies depending on the situation….you can connect on the surface or something that is deep in your core
- If I can acknowledge that something does speak to me, it makes the connection and impact that much stronger. AND, makes life much richer and fuller
- When something speaks to me, what it says
- I feel I’m pretty attuned to my surroundings and the stimuli that comes at me, yet I wonder if I ever miss when something is speaking to me
- How many people are touched by something, yet don’t have the words or recognition to acknowledge the connection and thereby deprive themselves of the possible richness
This entire train of thought came about as I was beginning the process to go through my 2017 images and develop/process the images worthy of keeping and sharing. I shot several thousand frames this year and it can be difficult to have one image stick out and rise above the rest in my mental inventory. In my case this week, there was one image that was screaming at me to be processed and not overlooked in the large library of images. The thought/presence of this photo got so large in my head that I had to stop what I was doing and spend some time processing it so I could share it and let it see the light of day.
Here is the image that was speaking so loudly to me. It was taken in December in Grand Teton National Park. We were driving the road towards Jackson lake when we spotted a red fox on the hillside. We quickly parked the car and got out with our cameras, no tripods, to capture a few frames. At first the fox was out in the open and then it moved up the hill. We climbed up the steep hillside to follow the fox, occasionally catching glimpses of it through the brush and trees. At one point, the animal started heading back down the hill. We could follow it visually until it entered a stand of trees. Thinking we might have lost it, we relaxed a little bit, yet still remained hopeful. Then we suddenly caught a glimpse of fur and just as we got our cameras up and ready, the fox appeared through the trees. I fired off a few quick shots to grab any available shot before the fox moved again. Thankfully, it paused in place and allowed me to shift my position just a bit to get a better angle. As I did that, the fox looked up at me and I was able to capture the image.
When I saw the image on the camera LCD I thought it was a good picture, though not sure if it was a great one. Returning from the trip, I did a cursory review of my images and again saw this one. What struck me during the review is how different the image is from the others I got of the fox….in most of them the animal is out in more open space. I was intrigued and pleased with the image, I think the hook was set in me that this was a pic I needed to process. It was this hook that was the start of the image starting to talk to me after 2 months sitting on the hard drive.
So, what is it about this image that “speaks to me” and why was it speaking so loudly? Honestly, whatever I say to answer this is just about me and what I like in art/photography and what resonates with me….you most likely wouldn’t feel the same. I’ll try and put in to words what I’m seeing and why I like it. It’s not a dramatic action shot, or filled with hyper-saturated colors, it’s a quiet image, with hushed colors, and the fox is a bit inquisitive.
First off, it’s not a “textbook” image of a fox, you can’t see all of the animal. But that’s OK since this isn’t supposed to be one of those images. The fact that the animal is in the trees and brush, it feels like it is a more natural setting. It almost feels voyeuristic in that we’re spying on the animal through the cover, catching a glimpse of it, which adds intrigue and mystery (versus just standing in the open space) The other thing that attracted me was the color palette of the image. The colors of the brush and the trees framing the stronger color of the fox. It’s a subtle, yet harmonious palette. And the last thing that stands out to me is that I have eye contact with the animal in the photo, which always draws the viewer in deeper to the image.
For me, it’s the right combination of elements in an image that made a lasting impression and spoke to me in a very strong voice to the point that I had to stop what I was doing to process it and share it with the world.
Do you hear voices too? 🙂