Sunday, April 9, 2017

Seeing the Light

Carrie Mae Weems, Untitled, 1994
From the Kitchen Table series

One of the interesting things I've discovered leading tours for the Picturing Love exhibition is that many people have a hard time considering a photograph from an art perspective.  Perhaps it's the predisposition that photography is "the medium that doesn't lie".

Well, photography is just as manipulated by the the hand of the artist as any other art form.

How is the photograph composed?  Has the photographer chosen to emphasize some elements and to hide others?  What's been cropped?  What might be just beyond the frame?  How does the decision to make the photo black and white vs. color influence our narrative with what we see?  The answer to each of these questions -- and more -- are the result of the photographer's artistic process.

I've been leading tours focusing on light.  Photography can't exist without light; it's fundamental to the photographic process.  However, photographers can choose to shoot in ambient light, enhance a setting with studio lighting, or increase/decrease the light in the dark room process. It's been a fascinating conversation point with guests.  In one case, the light serves as a metaphor for trust; in another, the light is as much a character in the narrative of the image as the people within it.  So I'd like to challenge you to consider light as you view photography.  Not passively, but as an active choice made by the photographer.  I look forward to hearing how this line of inquiry might influence your appreciation of the art form.


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