I write this as we are about to see the first ever close up photographs of that distant tiny outermost planet of our solar system, Pluto. Excitement can’t describe what both scientists and lay people alike feel at being able to view something so far away, so undocumented, so unknown, until the eye of that robotic camera was turned upon it.
We live in a visual world. Today it’s all about the image whether on a tablet, an iPhone, or a photograph. Media bombards us and saturates us with images, shaping how we view our world. We all have become photographers, easily snapping thousands of everyday images thanks to the high quality lenses that come with our smart phones and tablets. The technology has revolutionized taking pictures just like, but going beyond, what the box camera/Brownie did for a previous generation.
So how does a photographer manage to “capture” a subject in a new and fresh way?
Many books have been written on the topic of what makes a great photograph and techniques to use to achieve that goal. However, the best photographs, the ones that draw the viewer in and evoke an emotional response, always begin with the person behind the lens. It’s not the camera, or the technology, or all the digital darkroom techniques, but the soul of the creator melding with the subject matter that produces the most spectacular results.
As we can see in our current exhibit’s artist Sharon Curia’s photographs, she doesn’t do any Photoshop manipulation. Just uses her camera and lenses and her eye for good composition to produce outstanding photographs. Her subjects vibrate with color and texture. Some photographs, like her lion, look as if she posed the subject! Others, like her bridge over a stream, have an outstanding depth of field and color combinations. She is expert at capturing the heart of her subject matter.
Here are quotes from three other photographers on their approach to subject matter:
“As an artist I try to communicate, with camera that which I can only hint at with words: my love for the visual experience. I endeavor to capture moments from my own experience that have been more substance than shadow; instants timeless and random, where routine existence seems to give way to a heightened sensibility.” – George Garbeck (www.georgegarbeck.com)
“In a world saturated with visual images, I make certain that my photographs and montages are unique, original and have genuine interest to me. As I look to my environment, I carefully choose subject matter that begs to be photographed, whether serious, mundane, romantic or whimsical. I have become increasingly aware of my surroundings, looking to discover images from everyday and unexpected sources.” Charlann Meluso (www.charlannmelusophotoart.com)
“Today, digital photographers have so many options for capturing and manipulating their images…The final image should not be judged by how closely it echoes reality but how well it communicates the message.” – Caryn Seifer (www.carynseiferphotography.com)
(The above quotes are excerpted from the artists’ statements presented with their works in Gallery U Boutique’s July Photographia exhibit in Westfield NJ. http://www.facebook.com/GalleryUBoutiqueWestfield)
Photographs preserve memories. They evoke emotions. They reveal the soul of the picture taker and the object captured. They are ubiquitous in our lives and yet singular and precious. So go pick up your camera, tablet, or smart phone and shoot away. You might never exhibit them, or even post them to social media. But you will have captured a bit of life, unique to you as a human being living upon the third planet of this solar system.