I used to be a big proponent of pictures as a medium for storytelling. In several of my earlier Weekly Fifty posts from years ago I would often talk about the story behind each picture, as if there had to be more for the viewer to interpret beyond what they simply saw in the photo. And while that is certainly one way to approach photography, I don’t think it has to always be the case. Sometimes an interesting photo is just an interesting photo, and it doesn’t need any type of backstory or apocryphal information in order to be an engaging visual experience for the viewer.
Pictures as stories can be a fun and interesting way to approach this type of art, and even if you don’t do it all the time it is a technique that I recommend trying. All that brings me to this week’s image which is…well, what do you think? I would normally use this space to talk about how I created the image, what it means to me, how I shot it, etc. but this time I think I’m going to leave that alone and ask you to interpret the picture in your own mind. Does it mean anything to you? Does the title influence how you see the photo? (or is it merely a reference to a song I used to have on repeat during study sessions in college?)
See, this picture certainly does have a bit of a story to tell in my mind. I shot it specifically in order to tell a story, and composed it in such a way so as to conjure certain emotions or thoughts in the mind of the viewers, and yet I want to keep that information to myself. I did not manipulate anything you see here, and the objects in the frame were not altered by me in any way. I did choose where to place my camera, what exposure settings to use (50mm, f/8, 1/90 second, ISO 3200*), and where to focus on the subject in order to create the shot I was looking for in order that I could tell the story I intended. However, as I post it here I find myself less interested in sharing what it means to me and curious instead about what it means to the viewers. If you’d like to comment, I would enjoy reading what you have to say and I’m sure others would too. If not, that’s just fine too. And if this image means nothing to you, that interpretation is, in my mind, just as valid as anything else.
So to come back full circle, I still believe in the power of pictures as vehicles for telling stories but I think there’s more to this particular visual medium than that. Photography can be what you want it to be, and if it means something to you then it has served its purpose.
*the value selected by my D7100’s Auto ISO feature