Metaphor - ‘to transfer’
Isn’t photography all about metaphor? The simple fact is that an image, a collection of abstract shapes and tones are used to represent something else.
Photography is not literal, we do not photograph what is there, but instead photograph what it means to us. Photography is interpretive, from the moment we feel or see something to how it is viewed, everything about it is metaphorical.
I don’t shoot the black deserts of the central highlands of Iceland to document them. I’m not bothered about the historical or ecological aspects of my subjects. In fact my subjects are never really the point of my photos. It’s the interpretation that is the point, because the interpretation is all about a point of view. That’s what photography is all about.
All of us, each and every one of us who are keen photographers take images not because of what the subjects look like, but because of what they mean to us. What we saw in them, and why we saw what we saw. Making images is about conveying to everyone else ‘this is how I see the world’, and has little to do with the actual subject at hand.
Thinking about my interpretations, you may then wonder ‘why does Bruce shoot black deserts?‘ Ah, well therein lies the real question. I can only answer it by saying that I love mystery. I find vast, black empty spaces deeply enigmatic. For some reason, I’m only interested in photographing a place if there is some kind of atmosphere or mystery about it. Something that is undefined, hard to grasp. You could argue that I’m a romantic at heart, and that is why I go to these minimalist, abstract landscapes.
In previous blog entries I’ve coverer the idea that minimal landscapes aren’t really minimal. The human mind can’t accept ‘empty’ images. Our visual system goes into over-drive to convince us that there must be something there, even though there isn’t. I like this. I love that my brain can’t accept an empty canvas and wishes to see more than what is presented. It allows you to conjure up in your own mind what you ‘think’ is there.
I think all landscapes have multiple layers and a good, maybe great photographer, is one who is able to dig below the obvious, below the surface of the literal, and show us metaphor.