To me, interpreting art can be a great deal like interpreting the lyrics of a Blues or R&B song from the 50's 60's, and 70's. We hear the lyrics and we may THINK that we understand what the message in the song really is. But, then, we happen upon the songwriter and we ask him or her "Is this what you meant in your words?" And he or she might respond with: "Oh no, I was really just trying to say...(this or that)....!" So we find that the writer may have had a completely different intent. I believe this same scenario often applies to all forms of art, including photography. We view an image and we respond based on what OUR mind is telling us at that time. Is it always the "correct" interpretation? Does that always matter?
Take this image, for example...We may look at this and think, sadly, that two boys are locked behind the barrier fence in some kind of children's prison. But the REALITY of this image is simply my two grandsons, standing on a canal boat in Easton, Pennsylvania looking out at the mule team (out of view here) that is towing the boat.
Now, there is but one element in this image that probably compels the mind and imagination to think that this is a prison: It is the wires going horizontally across the screen. These wires are the single element that potentially lead us to an "incorrect" interpretation. One that goes in an entirely different direction from the reality of the actual scene.
This leads me to my real point in all of this, which is: As photographers (and I use the term loosly in my case ;-) ), we convey things that we see and we construct a composition based on our own "first-hand" knowledge and experience with a given situation, because we are actually THERE! However, the person LOOKING at our image may, very often, not have all of this information. .It's not their fault and we should not be offended...it's what their mind was telling them, based on the image that they viewed combined with the emotional information that they had that stemmed from their own particular personal "set" of life experiences.
Photography is art. Art is open to interpretation...knowing this hopefully allows us to understand and respond based on what we feel and think, while knowing that we may still be "wrong" about it. That's the fun of this thing we call photography. To me, it is one of the key factors that make it fun....and interesting. Looking at an image and responding with our emotions. Telling the photographer how it makes us feel and what we think it is.
Interpretations are exchanged. Emotion, heart, and spirit become the key factors. Technical critique comes in to play because we like to share and we want to get better at the craft. But, personally, I have always felt that the PRIMARY reason for sharing of photography is to share emotions and feelings. If we are wrong, the photographer can "steer us right." That is another wonderful thing about AM3, we speak directly to the "author" of the image...if we are wrong, the photagrapher will explain, hopefully, what FEELING he or she is meaning to convey.
We share a special fellowship here, we trade feelings and reactions and it all goes into the mix of discourse and exchange. So, here's to "We the People" of AM3!
** Staples Singers - "Respect Yourself"
- " We do not move forward from a middle opinion, which is undemocratic but mediocratic.
We advance from a creative passion "- (Edgar Morin)
- "To photograph is to hold one's breath, when all faculties converge to capture fleeting reality. It's at
that precise moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy."
- Henri Cartier-Bresson.
::Words from Denny:
- My beliefs, and values, have always been strongly tied-to music, especially Jazz, and Blues.
- The following artists and lyrics seem to "sum-up" where my spirit resides:
EARTH WIND AND FIRE;
"HOLD ON TO YOUR SPIRIT,
ALWAYS FEEL YOUR SOUL....
HONOR THE MAGIC IN YOUR HEART"; Earth Wind and Fire