Blog #112 Wish You Were Here
The epic Pink Floyd Album and song from 1975 Wish You Were Here leads me to my next point about making pictures [Watch this unplugged version for a real treat]. One of the goals of many photographers is to take the viewer there. Travel, street photography, and landscape images can give the viewer a feel of actually being in the place in which the photograph was made. This is one measure of images that work. These images seem to reach beyond affecting the viewers sense of sight only and somehow come into contact with their senses of feeling, smell, or even hearing or taste. How can this be?
Images may connect with certain people more than others. What is the mechanism that dictates this connection? Images will connect [or not so much] through their capacity to evoke memories. Hear me out. Memories exist, in the environment. Your brain is involved in the recollection of memories but not in a data-retrieval type of way like a hard drive. Memories are not stored as little zeros and ones in the gray matter between your ears. Memories are effectively constellations of brain activity [electro-chemical activity in your neurotransmitters] that have resulted from different combinations of sensory stimuli. This comes from environment. Your brain is simply along for the ride.
When you view certain images [environment] that have certain qualities these images might trigger, so to speak, experiences from your memory. In this way, the viewer might actually feel that they are in the place that the image was made. This is especially true when we have been to that place or a similar one that is presented in the image. Images contain qualities and variables that will lend themselves to this effect on the viewer.
Variables such as the type of light (i.e. color, direction, intensity or luminance) contrast, shadow, line, shape, texture, and atmosphere in any combination may evoke the experience of a memory in the viewer and give them the feeling that they are physically in the space where the image was made, albeit for a few seconds.
Photographs are extensions of our own visual experience in the same way that reading is an extension of listening and writing an extension of speaker behavior. It’s an amazing thing to consider that a photo is a slice of our own visual experience like a fraction of a second in a given place. Making [and sharing] images that will be viewed in someone else’s future, transcending time, is extraordinary. Time, of course, is an illusion after all. There is no time, per se, but only Spacetime. Read Carol Rovelli’s Reality is Not What it Seems: The Journey To Quantum Gravity for a quick 2000 year summary of what we understand about the universe in a mere 265 pages! I digress.
Anyway, is one of your goals in making and sharing images to take people on your personal visual roller coaster? If so, consider the variables mentioned above like texture and atmosphere and bake those juicy layers into your images. You might strike a nerve with somebody who will go beyond the “👍🏼” and really feel you.
Finally, I agree with Bruce Gilden
If you can smell the street by looking at the photo, it’s a street photograph.
The light is always right.
*Images: © Jeremy H. Greenberg
Where: Ruby Bar, Pottinger Street, Central, Hong Kong
Subject: Opening of Ruby Bar
Gear: Various: Mirrorless Fujifilm X-E3 + XF Fujinon 18mm f/2 + On camera Flash