Thursday, December 24, 2009

The Mental Image, The Visible Image, The Constructed Image

I would like to think that I have a photographic memory. I must if I am a photographer. Or at least I think I should. Never the less, my memory allows for me to call up visual memories that are in the form of snap shots and photographs. Often times I can remember in great detail things, moments, and places in my life. It is a very comforting feeling to have this ability. Because at times I do not always have a camera. And for the most part those are times I wish I had brought one with me. Its not every day that a situation occurs where I find myself wishing I had a camera to document a moment. But when that time does come, or there is a moment in which I would use my camera to record that moment, I find myself making mental photographs. Images I stored and keep close to my heart so I can upload them at any point and time and remember them. Below is a description of a moment in which I would have loved to have had one of my cameras.

The Mental Image

Her hair was soft with curls never before seen. Her face light up with every smile. The light illuminated parts of her face, leaving her eyes in the shadows. In that moment I wished I had my camera to capture the aesthetic qualities that made up this beautifully composed scene. Every few minutes she would sit back, just enough for the light to catch her eyes. Glowing back at me from across the table, again she would smile. Smile with her eyes. Her smiles change frequently. Each one expressing a different laugh, emotion, or thought. The side light mounted on the wall, casts deep shadows. Shadows that some times covered her eyes, just begging for a chance to see them. Through the curls of her soft hair that occasionally fall in front of her face I catch glimpses of contentment and genuine happiness. An empty glass of ice tea stands next to a half full glass of water. My cup, half full of ice slowly melts as I occasionally reach for a sip of water. The table having been cleared a long while ago is anything but empty. Great conversation, tender moments, soft words, excitement, and laughter filled the table. Occasionally a mitten appears from under the table in a playful manner. I, on the other hand sit poised listening intently to the words spoken. Seeing this scene in front of me, I knew this was a moment that I will remember. Compliments were exchanged. Words said to one another that make for a nice feeling. A welcoming feeling. A familiar feeling.

This is how I can visualize the moment a few nights ago. Like I said, it would have been nice to have made a photograph of the moment. But at the end of the night, when I can recall this image and view it as many times as I would like, who needs a camera?

The Visual Image

The photograph is a visual element that allows us to see what has happened or has been created. A visual image can include anything we see or create. Visual images are ones that we see with our eyes and interpret with our minds. You could explain to someone that a fire took place and you saw it happen. You could try your best to describe the event, how it looked, what you saw, how you felt when witnessing the event.DSC_0595 But, sometimes seeing this for ourselves really gives us a sense of appreciation. I could tell you that I saw a fire happen. I could explain that I saw a fire fighter be knocked over by the force of water escaping a hose like a geyser.





But, if you cant visualize it, what good is the description? When you present a visual image, a photograph. You are giving a chance to show what you saw and how you saw it. A glimpse of what you were seeing, which maybe different than what other people were seeing. A photograph is worth a thousand words. Without a visual image your left with an empty description.

The Constructed Image

Constructing an image commands a lot more attention than just making a snap shot. It is about how you arrange and place the elements within a composition. It is about how you construct a visual image for people to see. At times it is about taking nothing and making something from it.Couch This is an example of a constructed image. A torn leather couch sitting in an ally way. Passing by seeing this element became an image. Using my camera to photograph this element becomes a constructed image. You maybe thinking, “well don’t all images become constructed at one point or another?” This can be apparently true in some situations, where as others are more intuitive vs. being well thought out. Yes, making a photograph can be perceived as constructing an image. However there are times where the thought process for making an image is a totally different mindset. Which allows us to differentiate photographs into various categories.

Intuitive images: Knowing and anticipating where to shoot and look.

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Constructed Images: Positioning yourself and your subject/s to make a photograph.

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However you look at it, as long as photographs are being made, we are all happy…





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