Our son’s 21st birthday was in March 11, 2014. For those of you who don’t know him , his name is Jonathan. Aptly named because we knew he was a gift from God. You may be wondering what this has to do with photography or blogging about photography. The answer is “nothing”, really. But it does have to do with my philosophy of photography, which, I guess is everybody’s philosophy as well. Simply put, photography, for me, is a visual language; a means to tell a story in one or several images where there are no words for it. It’s all at the emotional level. In fact, to me, a picture is not worth a thousand words, simply because there are no words to describe it. And this is the reason why photography, as well as other art forms, is subjective.
But back to Jonathan.
I like taking Jonathan’s picture. Every time we take him out, I try to get a shot of him saying something; an outwardly expression that would give me a glimpse into his world. A world where his true, inward expression solely exists. He cannot express complex emotions like “normal people”. So I keep photographing small “Jonathan moments” in order to build a bigger picture of him. I look at this picture of him on his 21st birthday and wonder if that smile means that he’s actually happy and, if so, what is he happy about? I guess it doesn’t matter. To me, these expressions are always happy. I guess because I have such a deep emotional bond with him.
I want my photography to reveal something about my subjects that is unspoken. Maybe that’s why I like being a wedding photographer. Weddings are a plethora of concealed emotions. Documenting these is what makes this a creative process. I treat each picture as a work of art, therefore, I invoke all my knowledge, all my skill, all my emotions when I press the shutter. I use the best tools that I have at my disposal. It is a right that I impose on the subject. They deserve the best.
Weddings are not the only place where this “creativity” can be applied.
The simple act of verbal conversation can sometimes reveal the unspoken. Not necessarily as innuendo or reading between the lines, but by an expression that confirms a deep understanding of what’s being said. Or as Valentine Michael Smith puts it, “to grok”.
There’s no magic to this. Everybody has this innate ability. One has to become aware of it. Many do, but prefer to use it as a sixth sense, as a defense mechanism, as a means to gain the upper hand, or any other selfish act. I prefer to see the beauty in it, and in doing so, I turn it into a work of art. There are many people who do the same. Not necessarily with photographs. They prefer to reveal via sketches, paintings, music, poetry, dance, comedy, etc. In general, “art”, in some form or another.
Are photographs an “exact” representation of these expressions as opposed to other art forms where it is interpreted by the artist? The answer is “no”. A painter, for instance, may choose a particular color or brush or even a brush stroke to represent the subject or part of the subject. A photographer has similar tools at his disposal. One very special tool is simply light. We “pick” our lights carefully: light from a window, candle, street lamp, sunlight reflected in a mirror, dim lights, bright lights, cool light, hot light, etc. These “lights” give shape to our subjects in different ways, so the same expression can be seen in many different ways. Each with its own added meaning, and with its own beauty.
Jonathan’s “silence” is beautiful.
And so, I keep taking pictures.