Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Transformation versus um, not

So you're someplace, and you're trying to follow my instructions. You don't want to just take a picture of the thing, you want a concept, some idea to realize with the camera. How do you get yourself a concept? I've talked about this in months and years gone by, in a series on inspiration and pre-visualization. Here's another take on it.

This isn't the only way to break it down, but it's one way.

You can take a transformative approach, and realize whatever it is as something it is not. Something you can imagine, but something which is not what the thing is. You might want to photograph a supermarket aisle as a circle of hell, perhaps. Perhaps it makes you feel like you're in hell, but it's not all that hellish in reality. How can you transform it into a hellish vision? What specific photographic choices would you make? Where should you place the camera, what length of lens should you use, do you need props? Actors? And so on.

At the other end of a spectrum here is.. the other thing. I haven't thought of a good word for it, so it's "not transformative". You're trying to photograph it as it is. How can you shoot that supermarket aisle to show what it truly is? What is it, truly, anyways? And what kind of photographic choices can you make to bring that out?

This is a spectrum. Rarely is a photograph 100% non-transformative, although the news media would surely want us to believe that theirs are.

Also, it applies to more than places. Events, people, grounds, objects. These can all be handled in the same sort of way.

Does it matter? Not really. It is not a requirement to measure the degree to which a concept transforms the scene. Still, it is useful, I think, to consider that a concept is permitted to transform to a degree. Possibly, by considering the spectrum described here, a concept can be helped to reveal itself.

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