“Images that do nothing to make us think, are nothing to think about making.” – John Neel
I believe there is a need for an image-maker to develop some kind of deeper reason for an image to exist. To simply show an object for the sake of showing what it looks like is generally not a good reason — at least in the arts.
An image needs to go a few steps beyond a simple likeness. It needs to confront the thing being imaged in such a way that it changes that thing into something more profound. The photograph needs to raise the experience to a new level – into something that provokes an insightful reaction.
The term “Heightened Reality” is what makes the “thing” in the image more interesting. The thing imaged loses its expected meaning (object) and becomes transformed into something very different and far greater in terms of its meaning (metaphor).
This is not always an easy thing to accomplish. The thing and the thing it becomes need to elevate the experience of seeing to a new level.
That said, the effect should not be so blatantly obvious as to reduce the effect of discovery. It is the discovery that makes images interesting to look at. That is the challenge. It is also the reward. After all, a photograph is meant to be a bit of a puzzle that the viewer needs to work out.
In photography, it comes from having an idea, or at least some basic intuition about the subject before the image is shot. In most cases, there is little to no time during the exposure to reflect on the possibilities. The concept of the decisive moment is not a thing to dismiss. The moment of conception is one that lives in relative time. It is a period of time that is not necessarily instantaneous, but which, has been evaluated to at least some degree prior to making the exposure.
A well-conceived photograph is worth the viewers time and effort. When done right, the image has the capacity to transform the viewer, as well as the artist.
The photograph becomes something altogether different because it has been transformed into a heightened awareness of a reality. It is an unexpected transformation that raises the understanding to a new level.
The image becomes a metaphor that offers new insight into actuality.
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