Stop Reading! Look!!
Johannes Molzahn, Nicht mehr lesen! Sehen! (1928)
Having explored the areas of the relationship with the subject and the importance of the context in which a photo is taken, today, I, still Camilla of Zelda was a writer, will talk to you about the importance of pictures that tell a story… My favourite type of photo! Ultimately, the reason that I like photography so much is because it is another way of telling stories.
Let me introduce to you once again my friends, whose faces illustrate these posts: 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.
Images tell stories, every one of them. Lewis Hine lamented the fact that he couldn’t tell stories with words because, had he been able to do so, he would have avoided having to travel about with a camera (in his day, the tools of the trade were nowhere near as manageable as they are now!).However, though everything tells a story, it is undeniable that some images do it better than others, images capable of telling us so much about the the subject in the photo and about the intention of the person behind the lens.
How can you tell a story through an image? How can a picture make up for the absence of words, movement, progression of time?
To dumb it down unforgivably, a story requires characters, a storyline and a certain point of view from which to watch all the elements in play. Often, the juxtaposition of two frames can animate certain anecdotes; sometimes a certain facial expression or a way of moving can bring life to a story that starts with the photo and lives in the imagination of those who observe it. I get completely overexcited every time I come across a mirror photographed by Brassaï: a shot-reverse-shot, a profusion of stories, emotions and dynamics between characters, all found in the same image!
Here below, Riccardo and Canio were taking the mickey out of Stefano, who declared himself very proud of his new shoes. I feel that the juxtaposition of a before and an after shot communicates their complicity.
In the following two frames, however, I was just about to take a photo of my three friends, when a bicycle went past. I chose to juxtapose the images with only Stefano repeated because, whilst Riccardo and Canio essentially stayed still, he moved his arm and it seemed to me that this movement carried the story forward.
OK, I admit it, this is where my film training comes to the fore, with its inherent need for movement. In general, however, I can say the following: I love photographing people because it seems they always carry in their faces gazes and expressions that everyone has known in his life, or soon will know. Stories of requited and unrequited love, stories of tears of laughter and of straightforward pain. Frames of indignation that remain impressed in your mind, recordings of longing looks that, quite out of the blue, caught your gaze instead of anyone else’s.
We recognise in others that which we have been, that which we would like to have and, why not, that which we will never become but which manages to draw us out of ourselves a little. For all the time that is needed to render our existence more bearable.
People are energy and passion. If left alone and without too much prodding, people look for that which makes them immensely happy, or, conversely, that which grips them, which worries them. Tracing the mental geography of their thoughts, using only the light, becomes a fantastic challenge!
A photograph embalms (a term loved by Bazin) feelings, arouses new ones or simply puts them on show. The photographer’s challenge is to take inspiration from the rules of other art forms and merge them with his own rich and limitless vein of creativity.
So, tell me, do you think that the art that I have described twice before as a kind of ‘witchcraft’ could ever fail?!
In my next and final post, we will define emotion.
Zelda was a writer