Looking at Photographs

As a photographer I create images that are interpretations of my vision, often influenced by thoughts, feelings and experiences.  As a viewer of photographs I am attracted to a photograph because a relationship is formed that manifests itself in some kind of an emotional response.  While it is fairly easy to describe the visual elements of a photograph that draw attention, it is usually very difficult to describe the emotion much beyond simply stating it as a feeling of joy, sadness or simple curiosity.  More often than not I analyze the feeling to draw parallels with my own thoughts and experiences.  However, a recent event made me realize that as experiences in my life change, my response to photographs can change as well.

My brother is researching our family history and in his quest he has gathered a number of documents, including photographs of family members.  A while ago he sent me the photograph attached to this post of our father and his work colleagues, which we think was taken in the 1950’s – he is on the far right.  I was tidying up my study the other day and re-discovered the image and the very second I opened it up I had a sudden feeling of sadness.  Our father died 21 years ago and I have looked at this photograph on several occasions but never had this response before.   I began to analyze my response and although I came to a conclusion that it must have been influenced by the recent birth of our new baby and the fact that he will never get to meet his grandfather, what this particular event also made me realize is that new experiences allow me to look at photographs in a new way.  This is actually very exciting since I often look at photographs for new ideas and therefore it occurred to me that I can periodically go back through my archive of photography books, magazines and on-line resources to seek new inspiration in old images.

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