‘Every picture tells a story’ or so the saying goes. Well that’s true to a certain extent but some images have more to say than others. Photographs have the power to ask questions whilst not always providing answers. They are less about whether or not an image is beautiful or technically correct and more about what is it trying to say.
I am often asked what type of photographs do I like to take, and ‘landscape’ is very often one of the terms used. Well, I certainly like to be outdoors with my camera enjoying the countryside and coastline of the UK. However I don’t believe that a stunningly beautiful landscape photograph of an iconic location, captured during the golden hour has much of a story to tell. It may be a lovely view but the photograph doesn’t have much to say about the landscape itself nor does it hold my attention for very long. In fact I now see so many landscape images on social media which I can only describe as being formulaic and somewhat contrived. Perfect compositions, technically excellent and very often sharp from front to back, but all the questions I might want to ask about the landscape have already been answered. There is nothing else in the picture to hold my attention.
A few days ago I took the above image of an abandoned wheelchair by a waterside creek near to where I live. In no way can it be described as a beautiful image but it does raise more questions than it provides answers. Where is it? How did it come to be there? How long has it been there? Who was the owner? Would it still be there if I returned today?…….and so the list goes on.
I would like to quote the Australian photographer Anne Geddes –
“I think that emotional content is an image’s most important element, regardless of the photographic technique. Much of the work I see these days lacks the emotional impact to draw a reaction from viewers, or remain in their hearts.”
I couldn’t put it any better myself. As I develop as a photographer I am starting to think that my work is taking me down a path where the pictures I make are hopefully more likely to draw a reaction from the viewer. Raise questions and be more open to interpretation. Perhaps they will be more accurately defined as ‘documentary images in the landscape’ and not just ‘lovely pictures of the landscape’. They are two very different genres. We shall see, but for now I would like to share a few more photographs of a similar nature.
I shall finish with another short but pertinent quote, this time by one my favourite photographers, Fay Godwin, who said :
“I like photographs which leave something to the imagination.”