Image associations?

Ok, this posting is perhaps a 'little out there'. So be warned :-) I was sent through one of those e-mail circulars a few days ago, and in it, there was this graphic/photo of a big fish with a set of little red houses on top of it.

As soon as I saw the image, It reminded me immediately of my friend Lilian's house in the beautiful town of Reine, Lofoten. It was almost an immediate association I made with her home and with the Lofoten islands in general.

I sent the image to Lilian and asked her 'did you know you live on top of a big fish'?

I think the reason why I made the immediate association is because of a few things: Lofoten is surrounded in fish. It is in their culture, their history and there are fish drying racks everywhere you go. So the theme of fish is quite prominent. But what really made me think about Lofoten was the little red houses on top of the fish in the image. They are exactly like the red-painted fisherman Rorbu huts you see dotted all about Lofoten.

Ok, I'm sure some of you may be thinking that I've left the planet here a bit, but not so. If you consider how I've made those associations, you'll see that it's all about symbols. I saw this image and thought 'fish' and 'red houses' and my mind made a very quick association to the Lofoten Islands. It was also an immediate response too, which I think is worth considering.

I often find while I'm in the landscape making images, that there are 'symbols' everywhere. Things that remind us of other places, of events perhaps. Sometimes I'm not sure why I've been drawn to a particular spot and I'm sure it's all subconscious.

But I think it's worth thinking about how us Photographers are first and foremost visual people. We interpret our surroundings by what we see. But we also interpret our surroundings by responding to the symbolic nature of objects we find within our field of view. And often times, these trigger emotions within us.

As soon as I saw this image, I had very warm thoughts of my friend Lilian, living her happy life on the little peninsula, in perhaps one of the most beautiful towns I've ever spent time in.

I think that's just magic that our visual senses can take to us to another place.

If you'd like to read more about one of my 'associations', I wrote about photographing a piece of ice earlier this year in Iceland. The piece of ice reminded me of an animal. You can read that post here.