“The essence of a good photograph is the mystery. That we don’t know what exactly the photographer wants to say, but we have a feeling about it.”
-Jason Eskenazi, “Storytelling and Visual Literacy“
The video by Jason Eskenazi on visual literacy was incredibly interesting, and I felt like it explained so well what everyone does with photography that we might not even realize. Photographing something is about capturing a moment, but there’s an unexplained reason behind why one choose to capture a certain moment – a photographer might want to linger on a moment, or the photo might be a chance to move on from the moment. I think Eskenazi captured the essence of photography – on both the professional and civilian level – when said that there’s feeling behind photos, and an audience may be able to detect that feeling but it can never be certain.
I, like every other person nowadays with an iPhone and an instagram account, enjoy taking and looking at all different kinds of photos. Personally, I always want to take photos more often, but it is only a rare occasion that I think to do so. For me, I am more attracted to photographing existent things rather than “moments,” per say. By that, I simply mean that I am usually less inclined to take a photo of going to dinner with friends than a unique object or image I find out and about. I don’t consider myself to be a skilled photographer, so I get more gratification from photographing something that I think looks cool rather than trying to take a cool photo.
Images that attract me contain interesting and bold uses of color and unique settings. Here are some of my favorite photos that I have taken in the past year:
Both of these photos are from a trip to California that I took this past summer. I usually find myself taking more photos when I’m in a new environment or a place I’m not used to. It seems that when I’m in a setting that I don’t see on an almost daily basis I am more inclined to notice things that I am compelled to photograph. I think more often than not the feeling I am trying to convey through my photographs is the sense of excitement that I feel when I notice something worth photographing. I try to capture the sense of awe or interest that peaked my own excitement.
One of the things I love about this digital age we live in is the ability to see so much content quickly and easily. Logging into instagram allows me to see different places, unique things, and creative pictures that both amaze and inspire me. One of my favorite instagram accounts is Solange Knowles‘. She has such an amazing eye for color and creative setting that makes each of her photos stand out when I scroll through my feed.
Reading about the elements of film noir visuals was very interesting. After focusing on themes of film noir in the past two weeks, it was interesting to learn more about the visual qualities that create noir. I think the most important quality – based solely off prevalence and ability to convey noir themes visually – is the use of stark contrast. While noir is usually thought of as solely black and white, the modern examples prove that the same feelings can be conveyed visually with color.
Additionally, the description of noir visuals conveying a sense of existential thought and contemplativeness was very compelling. I think this is an imperative aspect of noir visuals, especially photography, because the visual is meant to be sat with for a fair amount of time, which pushes the viewer into a place of mystery in regard to meaning. Noir is flooded with mysteriousness about morals, character, and overall meaning. As mentioned earlier, the viewer should be able to feel the meaning but never know for sure. Noir qualities intensify this idea in a powerful way.
One of my favorite artists is Robert Mapplethorpe, who I thought of constantly while reading about photography and especially noir photography. Mapplethorpes work focused heavily on the stark contrast of black and white, and he often used subjects that featured such intense gazes, poses, or actions that – combined with the bold colors – creates a powerful image that stands out boldly before the eye.
Reading all about different types of photography and looking further into noir visuals has made me very excited for this week. I’m excited to work on the visual assignments – especially the ones incorporating my noir character – and start creating my own visual storytelling content.