To collect photographs is to collect the world.
Susan Sontag, On Photography (1973)
Hello everyone, it’s Camilla again, from Zelda was a writer, here to talk to you about photography.
In my previous post , I introduced you to the faces of some of my friends, who helped me in my experimentations with the capabilities of my camera, better known as Mrs Canon.
My models – and I say this with a certain amount of pride – are: Justine Romano of Le Funky Mamas, Canio Salandra aka The Sputnik Guy, Riccardo Casiraghi and Stefano Paleari of Gnam Box, Laura Anzani and Clelia Bos.
In this article, we will look into the importance of the context into which your subject is placed.
When I’m taking a photo of a particular subject, I like to take in the full context. What is going on around him or her? Which grid cages him in and which sets him free? How does his position fit with the varied context that sits over his shoulder? Is there a background teeming with life and choices, or are we looking at a more sterile context? Can the objects present do something to help us, or do we just need a lot of expressiveness and imagination?
In other words, looking through a lens involves a multi-level vision, combining fixed rules of composition with the need to communicate something personal: sweetness, strength, solitude, determination, greatness, and all that which is aroused in the photographer by that one particular moment and his creative needs.
The advice I feel that I should give you is to study carefully the basic principles of figurative composition, to look for the golden section in other artists’ paintings and photographs (here there is a simple and useful article), to start to consider the world as a series of vectors that guide the eye towards harmonious and fluctuating directions.
Having found out all there is to know about the rules, having worked out symmetries, proportions and framing, start to think about what you want to say and then do it, whilst following or subverting that which you have learned.
In a word? Experiment.
The greatest revolutionaries have always fought against something that they know well and in which they sense limitations and incapacity. Do the same in your own small way: learn so that you can deconstruct, start again, do better, do more. What more satisfying meaning could your creativity possibly have?
My poor eyes are the sacrificial victim of the ill-advised viewing of all of the films by Orson Welles, so, if you let me get my hands on a wide-angle lens, I may not be able to account for my love of distortion and claustrophobia. Low ceilings, vanishing points, labyrinthine barroquismo. All-in-all, if I don’t keep myself in check, enough to experiment with the new or, more importantly, to attend to the context of my photographs, I would be forever lying spreadeagled on the ground, trying to make the sky into a narrow and asphyxiating roof.
That said, when faced with the proportions of classic figurative art, my feelings are of nothing but deep and unconditional admiration: I feel that I need, above all, that sort of composure, in order to acknowledge the importance of my need for acute, sharp angles.
Work tirelessly and never stop investigating every one of even your smallest intuitions. As I said last time, photography is an amazing form of witchcraft: certain underlying meanings come, as calmly as you please, to knock on the door of your creative consciousness, in a magical moment in which everything suddenly becomes clear. Investigate them without stopping and wait for the revelations: this, in my own very personal opinion, is the best part of the whole game!
ONE RULE I’VE LEARNED ON THE JOB FROM THOSE WHO KNOW MORE THAN I DO?
Always move the subject two good steps from his immediate background, to add greater depth and to give him or her a better outline. However, even in this case, no one is stopping you from sticking your subject to the wall like a gecko, as long as it really means something to you!
My post ends here. I will be back to talk about the importance of images that tell a story.
Zelda was a writer