As a photographer, staring is not only my delight, it is also my business. I love to immerse myself in an image, looking at all details of it, letting my eyes wander from its focal point to the fringes and back again, revisiting it after a while to see if I am seeing something new, researching the background (not the visual one but the hermeneutical one) to see if that brings new interpretations and connotations to the table.
I have been doing a lot of that, lately. It is one of the things that I have learnt in college. I hated it at first. I really disliked those tasks where we had to research our projects and show evidence in the shape of discussion of other photographers’ work. Looking at other people’s work, I thought, would keep me from creating something original myself. It would drown my own creative ideas. It would stump my own creative development. Of course the opposite is true: It widens the horizon and it sparks new ideas in the viewer.
I am not that actively shooting at the moment, but I have built up one routine: I regularly write image analyses, purely for my own enjoyment. I study the lighting, make assumptions on the intended message, guess the camera settings, search for signs of Photoshop and generally pick the image apart as much as I can. And it has already had one certain result: I am appreciating portrait photography more than I ever did. Because there is so much to see, even in a head-and-shoulders portrait taken in front of a neutral backdrop. The human body is just an infinite canvas of emotions and connotations. It’s in the angle of the head, the shape of the eyebrows, the look in the eyes, the props, the background, the mood of the photograph. Surprised though I may be – I think I like people photography more than I ever thought. Thanks for my inspiration – and my education.