As I look at photographs, nowadays I tend to analyze more and more what the photographer saw when he/she made that particular image; what was his/her thinking; what prompted them to create it. I tend to wonder what is the intent of the producer of the photograph. There are times that I look at a photograph more than once, and feel differently when I look at them again. It brings a question that I often ask myself – what is the purpose of this photograph? And what is the intent of my own photography.
How many images do I see weekly and how different is my interpretation of them is compared to the the intent of the photographer? I will never know unless I discuss the image with its’ producer. Is it possible that the producer’s intent was miscalculated or that the emotional connection and “reading” of the photograph does not match the photographers vision?
When I think about my intent, I have to admit, it is not a constant item. It changes as I work on different projects and take into consideration my clients’ needs. Nowadays, I also tend to reflect deeper into my own definition of intent. I always question it. It wasn’t always a case in the past. I would make a photograph because it was simply visually pleasing or because it reminded me of something and I wanted to capture that memory again.
When I had a photo shoot recently for my research project, I analyzed my work from a perspective of a photographer, a football mom and a bystander that has absolutely nothing to do with football. My intent was clear – I wanted my viewer to see what a football mom’s life is. What does her everyday life looks like?
My intent is always to build a connection between the photographer and the viewer. That intent has very loose connotation and while some of my work is intended to have a strong influence on my viewers, the overall interpretation of my photographs will always have unlimited potential.
While the the details of the interpretation may differ, the emotional association/relation to the subject in the photograph and the almost supernatural ability to transform it into anything that the viewer can imagine in my photograph, reflects the power of photography medium. That power is something that I as a photographer have to always take into consideration. With that power, the control over the interpretation of my photographic work is practically non-existing.
Photography allows that unlimited openness to interpret photographs in any way we want. So in a sense, my intent shouldn’t really matter, as the viewer will take on their own interpretation of my work. But I do believe that some level of connection between the photographer and the view has to exist or at least be attempted to create.
The intent of the above image was to show the intimate connection between the newly weds. It was also to provide them with memories from their special day. This was one of the projects that as a photographer, I had to understand my client’s intent in order to deliver the product they needed.
Depending on a project I work on, various strategies may be applied.
The image above was technically altered to impact the viewer in a more “punched up” way. When I worked on it, this photograph screamed to be altered, to be transformed from a photograph to a graphic image, with a poster like quality. The composition of it, the colours, the movement within the image, all that has impact on the interpretation of the image. It also has a selling quality – this could easily be a poster for the football team, telling potential sponsors to invest in the team, telling potential recruits that this is the team they want to join.
As much as I try different techniques and strategies to give my work certain impact, ultimately, whether the intent of my work is successful, it is reflected by the perception of the viewers and my clients.