Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Variations, choice and personality

Woodland lane, Stourhead, April 2007

The Pauls, Butzi & Lester, had posts about working a scene and gaining different perspectives of a given scene. I thought they had pretty much covered the subject until I read the recent posts from Doug Stockdale on autobiographical work. This sparked off a series of interlinking thoughts.

On reflection on the first point, I think my working of a scene tends more towards Paul Lester's approach, although I probably press the shutter release less often than he does, instead inspecting things for the angle I like before shooting.

On reflection on the second point, I wondered if the way we put ourselves into our photography takes the form of autobiography in the sense of showing our life story or whether it comes through as our personality reflected in personal style.

Are there in fact elements of these two issues coming together? The way we approach a scene, the shots we take and ultimately the images we select then forming a part of us. Are these selections reflections of our personal history? Of course, everything we do, think, choose comes in some part from our accumulated experiences but is the choice then a reflection of those experiences or a result of them? Does the development of personal style come as a consequence of the way in which our personality develops through our experiences? Are there actually elements of both these things?

There is an empirical method we could apply, something I find interesting in itself. Take a group of people and show them a collection of our work. Which images do they choose and why? Are they the ones we would choose as our personal favourites? Would they choose the ones we really don't like? My (limited) experience in this area suggests that there is a lot of personal emotion wrapped up in such a choice - there is no absolute measure of best (as in favourite). Each viewer takes something different and personal from their observations.

I'm no philosopher and have no background in social sciences so don't really have answers.

On first reflection I think it is neither black nor white. We are a mixture of our experiences which then we bring to bear on the work we do. This, in turn reflects, in some part, those experiences which lead to new encounters. In some sense we are, through our photography, both telling some part of our life story and reflecting our current state of mind.

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