How does one capture an emotion?

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by landrum_kelly, Jan 25, 2016.

  1. How does one capture that which is invisible but real?
    [LINK]

    It's all about evoking emotions in the viewer, of course. The problem is that it is neither simple nor easy.
    I am not asking the philosophical question of whether one can photograph an emotion. I am asking about practical techniques for attempting to do so.
    --Lannie
     
  2. "How does one capture an emotion?"
    The photographer's emotion, or that of the subject(s) that are seen in the photo?
     
  3. Sight + smell + touch + sound + taste + mood + weather + movement + ? = E(motion)
    Sight = P(hotograph)
    Clearly, E does not = P. Therefore, the Sight in P cannot be the Sight found in E if one wants P = E.
     
  4. Obviously, the de-selfing slideshow, that you link to, does not answer the question.
     
  5. Maybe you should just start with the photographer - if that is what you call practical techniques. At least it is practical and always at hand.
     
  6. Anders wrote: "Maybe you should just start with the photographer ... "
    He has to claim, '"This is what my emotion looks like." What does an emotion look like?
     
  7. Suggestion: Since you want this to be practical as opposed to philosophical, which seems a laudable goal, pick a photo that you think captures or expresses or causes an emotion and let's talk about how it gets there. Link to the photo, name the emotion and talk about what it is in the photo that seems to capture, express, or cause that emotion. Otherwise, we're going to go back and forth to nowhere, which seems not to be what you want.
     
  8. If we are speaking of a photograph, all we have are the cues provided in a two dimensional medium. These are a moment captured by the photographer -- subject, light, focus, composition. Without words, we use our individual empathic "programming" and cues in the image to read the "emotion". The subject's actual emotions can be quite irrelevant.
     
  9. Does a state of dreaming or a childhood wonder qualify as an emotion?
    http://www.photo.net/photo/18138895&size=lg
    This is an unplanned shot (until the last moment). The little girl, daughter of a lady photographer friend was aware of the presence of photographers in the orchard, but had seemingly ignored our presence.
     
  10. This is something that we as photographers have no control over. People will react to a photograph based on a variety of different factors. Remember, a photograph simply describes something so we can say this landscape looks dreary or that person looks happy/sad/sexy/bored etc but it's just a description and how we arrive at our interpretation has a lot to do with our background, our life experiences, our culture and so on.
     
  11. Arthur wrote: "The little girl, daughter of a lady photographer friend was aware of the presence of photographers in the orchard, but had seemingly ignored our presence."
    And ... ? Where is the emotion, and whose is it?
     
  12. Sandy: Without words, we use our individual empathic "programming" and cues in the image to read the "emotion". The subject's actual emotions can be quite irrelevant.​
    It wouldn't seem very empathetic to me to ignore the subject's actual emotions?
    Marc: This is something that we as photographers have no control over.​
    This would be true mostly of poor photographers. Many good photographers make a lot of choices in order to express their own emotions and convey emotions of their subjects.
    Marc: People will react to a photograph based on a variety of different factors.​
    I agree. That's why emotions may vary. One of the factors going into the reaction is what they see in the photo, what is there and how it is portrayed. Humans do have some shared sensibilities, including a shared visual language. This is where there may be a meeting of the photographer and viewer. There is some connection. You can tell someone your mother died and they will react by laughing, because of something in their background or a particular feeling they have toward you or your mother. That would be an unusual reaction, however. Same with pictures. Reactions can be selfish or empathetic, or some combination of the two. Empathetic reactions usually have some connection to the picture itself. Selfish reactions are more obstinately "subjective."
     
  13. Lannie, maybe you could start with THIS PHOTO.
    Some of the things that go into my emotional response to it and what emotions I read in it (which aren't that separable to me, to be honest):
    The color palette. Think how differently it would feel if this leaned toward cooler colors such as blue instead of yellow/red/orange.
    His being in the foreground, harshly lit, her in the background, the shadow on the wall dividing the frame. What is this adding up to, not in terms of specific storyline or meaning, but in terms of your emotional reaction and your reading of the emotions of the scene?
    The gesture of the subjects. Think how differently it would feel if they were involved in an embrace.
    His back and her eyes. Would it feel differently if they were catching each others eyes or both looking at us?
    The gesture of his smoking? What does this add to the storytelling which makes me feel a certain way.
     
  14. That there will be a range of emotions and some variety and ambiguity does not mean the photograph itself is not exerting some amount of control.
     
  15. Fred -- the initial point -- "It's all about evoking emotions in the viewer, of course. The problem is that it is neither simple nor easy."
    What I may feel and see as a photographer is one thing, what I come away with from another photographer's image is quite a different thing.
    In a specific instant, a captured expression of grief and one of hilarity can be interchangeable to anyone only viewing a photo provided the context is neutral. Ask any actor.
     
  16. Fred, I much like your example, with its positive attributes of pose, color and lighting. It succeeds well in providing a different view of a not unusual bedroom scene. Having felt that, I do not feel that emotion is being vehicled by it or its subjects.
    Perhaps I am too blasé about such scenes? That may be very possible.
    Julie, in my earlier example of the little girl among blossoms in the apple orchard I was alluding to the emotion of the child, although I was emotionally a bit affected by her innocent appearing attitude (the tip of the iceberg theory at play with the extra image thoughts of the photographer?).
     
  17. Arthur, in the picture, I see a girl and an orchard. In the picture, where is the emotion, and what is the emotion? Please describe where it is in the picture.
     
  18. It succeeds well in providing a different view of a not unusual bedroom scene. Having felt that . . .​
    Arthur, what are some of the differences you are feeling?
     
  19. >>> Having felt that, I do not feel that emotion is being vehicled by it or its subjects.
    Agree. It feels very forced, in a heavy handed sort of way, belying its intent and thus easy to see through.
     
  20. Arthur, your photograph reminds me of Wynn Bullock's Child on a Forest Road, 1958. In that photo, I imagine that the child has a sense of awe at the natural beauty surrounding the road. But, that may be just my adult mind interpreting what a young child might be thinking, or that I wish was thinking. In this link, Wynn's daughter, Sandra, explains how the photograph was made and the child's circumstances. http://www.wynnbullockphotography.com/featured/2012-03/featured-1203large.html Does this commentary help me understand the child's emotions at the time? I don't think so, although I now know that the child is a boy rather than a girl (despite the dress) and that he is looking to the left because of leaves rustling in the breeze.
     
  21. Of course, scenography is a craft, that is taught and can be learned and the bedroom scene can be analysed and interpreted (and set-up) in terms of emotions. It seems banal to me and I'm not sure, that Lannie wanted to go in that direction.
    Arthur's little girl is a better example of emotion although it might especially be in terms of the viewers emotion more than the girl.
    In portraits, emotions are more straight forward : suspicion, happiness, attention, anger, fright, astonishment, sadness, as in the image collage below.
    00di0l-560429784.jpg
     
  22. Better yet, see the work of Duchenne: [ LINK ]
    Love your quirky nature, Julie.......one of my favorite folk on P/N.
    Those links are very nice but what about us, the P/N photographers, are we not worthy of at least a passing mention?
    00di1i-560432384.jpg
     
  23. I thought the linked photos were very false and lacked honesty..
    00di1l-560432484.jpg
     
  24. Sometimes emotions are subtle.
     
  25. Anders Hingel
    I see very little emotions in your posted photos...rather staid and empty.
    00di1s-560432584.jpg
     
  26. Well, I finally got back and just logged on. I wondered what you guys would come up. Thanks to all for trying. Fred has talked in the past about evoking emotion, if I am not mistaken, and I think that his photos succeed in doing that better than mine, perhaps better than anyone on the site. I am afraid that I sometime confuse the emotions that I feel when taking the photo with those that an impartial viewer might (or might not) feel. When I see them again, they bring back what I felt. I have no idea what others find in them--apparently not much, based on the comments and ratings.
    I asked the question because it is a genuine question--and one of the hardest to answer, in my opinion.
    Fred, I really liked the photo you posted. I can feel the angst, although I have no way of knowing what it is about. I am apt to read my own emotions into the photo--any photo. I don't know how to avoid that, but I can certainly relate to angst in relationships.
    That said, I like Arthur's example as well. I remember looking out our north-facing window near Akron, Ohio at the age of ten or so and seeing the fresh apple blossoms after a harsh, long winter. The image of what I saw and my feelings upon seeing it have stayed with me almost sixty years. I wonder if a photo would have or could have captured my sense of wonder, but that sense of wonder was real and very powerful. I don't know how to describe it now or I would. It was a sense of joy somehow, but how does one show that?
    Fred's moody PoW is another that tends to evoke a mood--or again perhaps evokes a mood in me that may or may not have corresponded to what Fred was trying to achieve.
    Keep 'em coming, folks. My back is sore from snow-shoveling over the weekend, and from having to sit most of the day today, so I will rest a bit for now. I look forward to seeing what people come up with.
    --Lannie
     
  27. They lack a bite, Anders...for want of a better word.
     
  28. Allen, those are great. One can read one's own story line into the shots, but one always wonders what the smiles or furrowed brows are really about.
    --Lannie
     
  29. Thanks, Landrum always respect your views as a long time crafter of photography.
    Its about the journey of imagination... that's the mystery of still photography.
     
  30. The descriptive phrase in Lannie's link: "Haunting Beautiful Images that Capture the Melancholy of Heartbreak".
    Well, I'm not haunted in the least, I did find beauty in some of them, I felt no melancholy from any of them.
    So I would summarise the quote as pretentious, or something like that.
    Arthur's was a good capture of the state, but no, it's not an emotion, I don't think(?)
    Fred's link neither captured nor provoked an emotion for me.
    Anders' collage is good. Julie's link is cool.
    (Summary of the above may qualify/define me as an artistic void, and thereby disqualify my response.)
    Both Anders and Julies examples demonstrate how a human displays emotion, a possibly picky distinction from the question of capture technique, or more correctly, the specific technique of choosing the subject as a face displaying emotion.
    From the op:
    "How does one capture that which is invisible but real?
    .....
    It's all about evoking emotions in the viewer, of course"
    No, it's not, I say.
    Either one can happen without the other, and they are really quite distinct. Both Anders and Julies examples demonstrate how a human displays emotion, and I recognize them; but I don't respond to them with evoked emotions of my own. The emotion was captured without invoking.
    Images can evoke emotional responses without containing that emotion in the image. Think of a photo of a loved one evoking sadness at their loss. Or a news photo of a tragic moment where nobody necessarily displays any emotion, but the fact recognition can invoke emotion in the viewer.
    The premise stated is wrong.
     
  31. My street photography is very much about capturing the feel and emotions of humanity...a understanding of what we are... our feelings and emotions.
    Us.
     
  32. This is my thing, my motivation,....me.
    00di27-560432884.jpg
     
  33. Worshipped but lost and rejected....the gambler.
     
  34. Not photography, but another visual art--
    Disney Studios has, for decades, evoked emotions by creating certain characters with large heads and "doe eyes," which are known to produce sympathetic, protective, loving, caring feelings.
     
  35. "How does one capture that which is invisible but real?"

    The use of the imagination and the minds creativity...and the real. Lost in verbal verbosity of run on sentences without a construction frame is virtually an enigma of lost meaning and understandings....
     
  36. Just a few thoughts.
    Hope you like the pics.
     
  37. Allen, please point to where I can see an emotion in any one of your pictures. What emotion is it, and where is it?
    ***************
    Emotions are felt. They aren't seen. That someone else is probably having emotions of some kind is evidenced by many things, but what those emotions feel like is not communicable via a photograph.
    I feel emotions that have no name that I know of. I feel emotions that do fit with the common categories of emotion -- joy, sadness, anger, for example -- but I have hundreds of variations of those kinds of emotions. The unnamed emotions mix and flux with those that fit into verbally expressible categories. Emotions begin and end without definition, they merge, they contaminate. I doubt I have ever had exactly the same emotion twice. They are not solid, they are not liquid, they might be like clouds, but even that is too predictable. How on earth could anybody else imagine they will 'capture' my or anybody else's one-of-a-kind emotion, if that person has, him or herself not even 'captured' it?
    I can predictably provoke emotions in myself, but what the resultant emotion will be, I have no more idea than that it will be somewhat in one direction rather than another. Puppies, for example, always make me smile.
     
  38. Emotions are felt. They aren't seen.​
    Yes, Julie, but emotions leave traces on the photographic plate (or film or sensor) just like radiation did for Madame Curie. One cannot see the radiation, but one can see evidence that it was there.
    By analogy, perhaps facial expressions are the residual traces indicating that an emotion must have "happened." Non-verbal cues, such as sagging shoulders or a hunched over posture, might do the same thing.
    --Lannie
     
  39. "Allen, please point to where I can see an emotion in any one of your pictures"
    Sometimes, sometimes, you need to travel from that place of your ethereal reality and touch humanity.
    A beggar, walking in endless time, hurting...is that not emotion of a hard hurting kind. A player at the temple of luck....lost and hurting is that not emotion? Its not all about Art turning into a gold coin ..
    Art, in the real world is a currency.... who cares a monkeys if the photo is of spud...hello, plebs, if we say its Art it is Art. Live with it and except...not that we care what you think. Just the way it is and will always be.
    Anyway, Julie...how about a cuddle? If you like I can post some more photos on this theme.
     
  40. Allen, if Julie cuddles you, I want to capture the joy on your face.
    Here is Peggy W. after telling me about her dogs. How she did love those dogs!
    --Lannie
    00di2j-560435584.jpg
     
  41. Emotion, Julie in the real world...real living and breathing folk.
    Us...not a potato...but real living folk. Us.
     
  42. Maybe I started off wrong by saying that "It's all about evoking emotions in the viewer, of course." I sounded so confident, but now I am not so sure. Perhaps it is about capturing expressions indicating the presence of emotion in the subject.
    That gets back to the first question raised by Julie: "The photographer's emotion, or that of the subject(s) that are seen in the photo?"
    Julie always has a way of getting to the heart of things, if Fred doesn't beat her to it. It's a nice, benign rivalry--a friendly rivalry. I wonder if one can capture the feeling of a friendly rivalry in a picture.
    --Lannie
     
  43. "Allen, if Julie cuddles you, I want to capture the joy on your face"
    It would be something special.
    .
     
  44. I always tried to capture my emotion about what I am photographing but in the link I really don't know what kind of emotion the photographer tried to capture. The subject are models and they are acting so if the photographer is taking the photograph he what kind of emotion does he have?
     
  45. The subjects are models and they are acting so if the photographer is taking the photograph he what kind of emotion does he have?​
    A "faux emotion," BeBu? Yet, yet, maybe that is what good acting is about. Then again, actors often are capable of summoning the emotion of the character they are playing.
    --Lannie
     
  46. "who cares a monkeys if the photo is of spud......
    Hello, plebs, if we say its Art its Art. Live with it and except...that simple to undestand. Sometimes the unwashed think they have a though of their own....funny really.
     
  47. HERE is one of Shawn Shawhan's.
    Is this awe or delight? Is awe an emotion?
    --Lannie
     
  48. Its about the real world, Julie
    Real folk...hurting. Does it get more real....
     
  49. Real world emotions, Julie....Us. not some....
    This is what my street photography is about...us.
     
  50. Here is my mother at ninety showing consternation after I ignored her request not to take her picture.
    --Lannie
    00di3A-560436084.jpg
     
  51. Hey, I hope I have not come in too heavy, Julie.
    I would not want too loose you. Seriously.
     
  52. Seriously.
     
  53. Then again, actors often are capable of summoning the emotion of the character they are playing.​
    Yes. And, a photographer may also transform whatever a situation seems to be offering in order to evoke emotions. He's not limited to capturing them.
    Lannie, there are also plenty of cases where a human is not involved. You asked how a photographer evokes emotions. How does Brassai do it HERE? No facial expression. What emotion do you feel and what are some of the practical techniques (the question you asked) Brassai uses to evoke that in you? I'd suggest that the door acts symbolically, that capturing the downward slope of the street has an emotional impact, that the lighting offers a sense of presence which is evocative, that the texture of the cobblestones and bricks in the darkness illuminated by the glaring lamp light provides every bit as much feeling as a facial expression. Let's try another. How does Steichen do it HERE? This is not a rhetorical question. And it's not only a mystery. There are some photographic answers that can be given, despite the fact we may disagree on precisely the emotions evoked. But we'd have to be willing to get down to brass tacks, as you originally suggested. What, indeed, are the photographic techniques used? What photographic qualities or approach do you see that lead you to an emotional response in either of these photos?
     
  54. Fred, I can't answer your questions right away, but you have reaffirmed the more puzzling and interesting question: How does one evoke an emotion in the viewer? Recording evidence of emotion in the subject appears to be easy and simple by comparison.
    Thanks for those links and for getting us back to the core of what most of us really want to know: "What photographic qualities or approach do you see that lead you to an emotional response in either of these photos?"
    Right now I am leaning toward "magic" as the answer to your question. Unfortunately, I don't have that kind of magic. You do. What on earth happened to you PoW photo? Can you post it again?
    Good philosophers ask the right questions. You're asking the right question, Fred. I was getting two questions mixed up together. Thanks for letting me out of the fly-bottle.
    --Lannie
     
  55. "How does Brassai do it HERE? No facial expression"
    Thought we talking about the emotions of humanity not about a lamp. Obviously its a masterpiece because serious bankers use it to trade with instead of the fallibilities' of shares, bonds and on.....
    Feeling really deep emotion looking at that lamp. Methinks im from a different dimension/ reality...sort of lost in space/ time/reality...hey, at least I've still got my hands on that lamp masterpiece to wow everybody.
    Potatoes, Lamps masterpieces of Art. Just cant wait to go home from this very weird dimension in time and space.
    Goodbye.
    .
     
  56. A half day away from some threads is hard to recover and it is too late in the evening to read anything. Perhaps I am missing some good oporrtunities to reply to questions or other points but here is an attempt at some catch up.
    « what are some of the differences you are feeling? »​
    Fred, I used the word feeling when I probably should have said that I "sensed" what I considered the positive attributes of pose, color and lighting in the bedroom scene example (a MOMA photographer ?). That was what I experienced, although these compositional elements did not convey to me the emotion(s) displayed by the subjects or, equally important, an emotion incited by the photograph itself. I acknowledge that I might well be missing something.
    « Arthur, in the picture, I see a girl and an orchard. In the picture, where is the emotion, and what is the emotion? Please describe where it is in the picture »​
    Julie, emotion is a complex phenomenon that can take many forms. I mentioned the emotion I felt as a viewer, but in regard to the emotion in the picture you specifically mention, I think that one or more of the following descriptors or elements of emotions – curiosity – contentment – wonder – happiness – interest – awe – pleasure - arousel – can be understood and read into the pose and the expression of the girl. It is true that in some photographs of an extrovert, a human subject acting in an advertisement, or someone in distress or exhibiting very visible excitement, may exhibit emotion more unequivocally than the photograph of the little girl, but I think that some of the elements I mention above are at play and are discernible in the way she is, even if that requires a second or longer look. Although her expression may be considered somewhat Mona Lisa like, there seems to me to be something going on in her mind that can be ascribed to one of those constitutent elements of what we call emotion (and there are several other elements of emotion, of course, that I did not suggest above).
    Glenn, thank you for your comment and somewhat similar image (in its effect). I love how Bullock contrasts the size of the little boy with that of his environment and the impressiveness of nature. Your feeling in regard to that image (“the child has a sense of awe at the natural beauty surrounding the road”) in not unlike what I think the little girl, in the orchard at apple blossom time, may be feeling in my photo.
     
  57. Fred has tried to redirect the thread back in a coherent direction by asking once again how it is that the photographer EVOKES emotions--not capture them.
    How does Brassai do it HERE? No facial expression. What emotion do you feel and what are some of the practical techniques (the question you asked) Brassai uses to evoke that in you? I'd suggest that the door acts symbolically, that capturing the downward slope of the street has an emotional impact, that the lighting offers a sense of presence which is evocative, that the texture of the cobblestones and bricks in the darkness illuminated by the glaring lamp light provides every bit as much feeling as a facial expression. Let's try another. How does Steichen do it HERE? This is not a rhetorical question. And it's not only a mystery. There are some photographic answers that can be given, despite the fact we may disagree on precisely the emotions evoked. But we'd have to be willing to get down to brass tacks, as you originally suggested. What, indeed, are the photographic techniques used? What photographic qualities or approach do you see that lead you to an emotional response in either of these photos? --Fred G.​
    I suggest that we direct our subsequent comments to trying to answer Fred's way of casting the issue: "What, indeed, are the photographic techniques used?"
    Fred has also given us two links in the quote just above. I think that those are good places to start. Fred also asked, "What photographic qualities or approach do you see that lead you to an emotional response in either of these photos?" If we cannot recognize those "qualities or approaches," how are we as photographers ourselves going to decide how to proceed, both technically and artistically?
    In other words, what have some photographers done when they have successfully evoked emotion? What can we learn from them? I think that all of us would like to create powerful photographs that do evoke strong responses from viewers.
    How do we do that? It is not difficult to create images that make for pleasant viewing. It is not difficult to create images that record or "capture" strong emotional reactions on the part of the subjects, evinced by the expressions they show on their faces. What is difficult is finding out to evoke strong, powerful emotional responses on the part of viewers. After all, if one is going to create a memorable photo, it is most likely going to be because one has touched the viewer emotionally in some way.
    Again, how do we do that? How do we as photographers create images that have the power to touch the viewer emotionally, even to the point that years later persons may still remember a particular image.
    Fred has given us quite a challenge here, and in the process also clarified the question(s). I think that his is a worthy challenge. I am not sure that I am up to answering it, but I hope that some of you are.
    --Lannie
     
  58. Well, according to Freds' perspective, I'm a poor photographer since I stand by my view on this topic. Good thing I don't take myself too seriously huh?
    Look, for me personally I don't try to manipulate peoples emotions through the photographs I take and choose to present to the world either online or in exhibitions. This is because I don't have an agenda to push which is goes hand in hand with manipulating emotions. Sure, I take pictures at events like gay pride parades and immigration marches which can be hot topic issues for many people all of whom have feelings one way or the other about them. I'm simply recording what I see, I'm not on some sort of social justice crusade, this is how I spend my free time. To those photographers who are interested in manipulating peoples emotions through their photography the only advice I can come up with is to watch closely how the mainstream news media uses images to push their agendas and follow their path. Know who your audience is and toss morals and ethics aside for the sake of sensationalism by any means possible including but not limited to Photoshopping images to the point where they only have a trace of what was captured at the time of exposure.
     
  59. Marc, I don't think you're a poor photographer at all. I think you're merely mistaken in thinking you have no control over the evocation of emotions. That's got nothing to do with intentional manipulation or having an agenda. I've seen several of your photos that have evoked emotion in me. Whether you believe you've had any control over their evoking emotion doesn't change the fact that they do, in my eyes. No, you're not a poor photographer. A poor photographer, IMO, is one whose photos don't evoke emotions in me. I think there are many ways to evoke emotions that don't entail manipulating them.
     
  60. HERE'S the first photo of yours, Marc, that I came across that I find evocative. I assume you're the one who either framed this shot when looking through the lens or cropped it afterward. Either way, the tight composition that results has an emotional effect on me, whether you intended that specific effect or not. The exposure quite drastically has an emotional impact. The faces become almost hidden in shadow and that feels a certain way to me, less lively, less exuberant than an exposure which lightened those shadows would have felt or one that captured a much brighter light on their faces. Maybe the exposure and framing were pure happenstance, completely accidental. Doesn't matter. You were the one taking the shot. Even if it was pure accident that you caught the shot this way, you're the one who chose to show it vs. the many shots of all kinds of stuff you've chosen not to show. So, if nothing else, you've controlled what I've seen of all the shots you've taken. I like the photo. I can relate. I can put myself there, in that place. I can feel the malaise of traveling by subway after a bit of shopping, the rhythm of reflected lights going by in the windows as the train moves, the darker, indiscernible features of my fellow travelers under fluorescent light and shadow.
     
  61. Very well put Fred. Man, those pictures I have here on P.net sure bring back memories. These were the first efforts I made after learning to develop and print film and after I went from 35mm to medium format. I've been meaning to do a whole revamp of my galleries here but these days I'm content with just uploading to facebook and a little here and there on flickr. The picture you linked above like all of my subway shots are underexposed hence the over all darkness of them. They were shot on Delta 3200 which is barely fast enough for those trains, Delta 3200 works best at iso 1000-1600 but with the slow lenses common to medium format I have to shoot wide open just to expose at 3200. These days I'm shooting more 35mm in the subways due to the much faster lenses such as my 50mm f1.4. Like all of my pictures, it's printed full frame. I have nothing against cropping at the printing stage, it's just I never seemed to go that route when I was learning to print.
     
  62. Well, Marc, THIS ONE is highly evocative for me, and I don't mean in the prurient sense--not to say that it is not an eye-catcher. It is certainly that, but it is for me a lot more than that. Perhaps I can relate to this one because my wife wore contacts and was always fiddling with artificial tears or some such in a variety of public or private contexts. Perhaps not. Perhaps it is simply because it has a sort of intimate feel to it, somewhat paradoxical because it was made in a public place--and yet it still records a private moment for all that, to all appearances. I still do not feel like a voyeur for having seen the photo, anymore than you did for witnessing the scene.
    If I had to say why it is so highly evocative, that is, I would not emphasize the purely personal aspect on my part--not to say that we can ever forget things in our own past that affect (even if sub-consciously) our responses to photos. What seems to give it its force is a certain casual closeness in evidence--or what seems to be a casual closeness, almost a domesticity in such a public place. I thus find it more comfortable than titillating. If I am mistaken as to that "casual closeness" (dare I say "intimacy" in some sense?) between the man and woman, that is nonetheless how I perceive it.
    Nor does the power in this case lie entirely within the image itself, but also in the narrative that we tend to think that it might be a part of. That narrative here (for me) would have to include (at least in this case) the perception that it is a candid shot, not a set-up shot. I do think that that affects how I might respond to it, how deeply it might touch me, etc. It has a certain authenticity, but I do not feel anymore like a voyeur for viewing it than I would if I saw someone applying sun block on his or her significant other at the beach. I referred to it above as a "casual closeness" in the preceding paragraph, and I think that that is the source of its power--but I am not sure. I think that I see the same "casual closeness" in this portrait that Fred posted. I could be wrong, but that is what I think I see about the context--and quite possibly the ambiance. It is interesting that such capacity to feel or relate to themes can transcend gender lines--or lines of sexual orientation. I can appreciate the emotions of Fred's photos in the same way that I can relate to the poignancy of, say, Brokeback Mountain. What is universal is universal, and I see elements of that universality in both your photo and Fred's--or at least I think I do, not to mention in the movie as well. Love is, well, love. Domesticity is domesticity, or whatever it is that is emotionally comfortable and can pass for domesticity.
    Nor do I feel, Marc, that my feelings are being manipulated in any way, not by your shot, not by the processing--not by anything related to its presentation. The photo simply does have some power, I think, though I would not deny that the power that it has for me is related strongly to what I bring to the viewing of it. Yet, yet, what I bring to the viewing is more than (much more than) some residual sentimentality. There is a certain humanity here, something almost universal that one could feel with respect to couples of all sorts in a variety of possible settings.
    In any case, I love your work, including the one that Fred refers to above.
    --Lannie
     
  63. What is difficult is finding out to evoke strong, powerful emotional responses on the part of viewers (Lannie)

    Good to get back to your initial question concentrating on the viewer and the photographer, although I disagree strongly on your affirmation, that "capturing that which is invisible but real" exclusively is about evoking emotions in the viewer. It is about emotions, but also so much more. Humans are more than emotions (homo adfectus) as you surely know: they are Homo sapiens. - and consequently, so are viewers of photographies.

    Looking at Brassai's street lamp photo, to me it looks as a visual catalogues for human angst, and escape:
    deep black shadows, bright light, night, sign of direction, closed door, steps leading up, uneven cut wall stones, concrete supporting beams, cobblestones, night, perspective, view towards beyond, the sky at a distance beyond a wall, windows, and use of golden rules…​
    I surely find another great difficulty in answering the same question when it comes to expressing the emotions of the photographer in images. Let's also come back to Julie's very first reaction to Lannie's questions concerning the photographer behind the camera: The photographer's emotion. The answers might not be the same as when it comes to emotions of the viewer. What did Brassai feel when he shot his street lamp ? How does it matter ? Should I mainly shoot photographies when I'm happy, sad, reflective... ?
     
  64. "How does Steichen do it HERE?" --Fred G.
    "Look, for me personally I don't try to manipulate peoples emotions through the photographs I take and choose to present to the world either online or in exhibitions." --Marc Todd​
    I am sorry if I gave the impression that I thought that the point of good photography is to manipulate the viewer. I do think that it is about sharing something with the viewer--or merely presenting something that one feels and sees and is willing to share with others.
    I sincerely doubt that Steichen was shooting for anyone other than himself. I think that all good photographers shoot for themselves, at least in the sense that they are shooting what pleases their own aesthetic sense, or what is otherwise meaningful and important to them. The same is true for the mood that we hope to achieve in post-processing. We are processing to please our own personal taste, not that of others. If we get something that pleases us or evokes something meaningful or powerful in ourselves, then we are more likely to want to share the result with others, but not in order to manipulate them, in my opinion.
    I do not, however, think that it is contradiction to say that I hope that what I see and feel in a photo (or possibly in the original situation, but quite possibly not) can be communicated to others. Otherwise, what is the point of sharing a given photo with others? But sharing is not manipulation. Sometimes I simply want to share the sense of awe that I have felt when taking the picture, but I have rarely succeeded in that--and the paucity of my mountain shots on Photo.net is a testament to how feeble photos are compared to the power of the original wilderness experience. I have yet to take a single picture of the mountains that truly pleases me, and I think that it is because I can experience in wilderness (especially when hiking alone) something that I can only call the "spiritual," something far transcending the merely "aesthetic." I do not know how to capture that in a photo. If I could, I would.
    I do, however, think that Steichen has come very close to that, at least to the extent that I may be permitted to speculate as to what it was that impelled him to take, process, and share the photo. He has at the very least, I believe, communicated a mood.
    --Lannie
     
  65. What did Brassai feel when he shot his street lamp ? How does it matter?​
    I guess that you are right, Anders. It probably does not matter, unless it is the case that we can communicate through all art--including music and literature--something that is universally human. Even saying that presumes, however, that the point is communication.
    Very often (but not always), I think that it is. We are not trying to manipulate, but we are (many times, at least) trying to communicate.
    The artistic impulse may yet be related to the impulse to share or communicate. Then again, I would shoot and process certain scenes even if knew that no one else would ever see them, and most of the time no one ever does. So. . . I have to concede your point.
    I suppose that art is only contingently communicative, but always necessarily expressive--sort of like singing the shower, to be heard only by oneself. I don't know that I would do it if I were stone deaf, though. Then again, maybe I would, if I could hear the song in my own mind.

    --Lannie
     
  66. By the way, plenty of well-respected and effective photography is manipulative and born of an agenda, from Dorothea Lange's MIGRANT MOTHER to Gordon Parks's AMERICAN GOTHIC, both staged in order to push agendas about poverty and segregation respectively, among other things, both of which needed to be pushed and were done so effectively. Mapplethorpe's S&M WORK is manipulatively meant to shock, among other things at play, which I think are authentic and real as well as staged and pushy. There are better Mapplethorpe examples I can't post because of our still puritanical nature, which may well illustrate at least some of why Mapplethorpe pushed the way he did. Martin Parr doesn't stage his work so much as FIND THE WORLD being a stage and stylistically manipulate that world to great effect, IMO. THIS PHOTO by Cindy Sherman is forced and emotionally evocative to some extent because it's so forced. The symbols of the clown, the blatant use of framing device, the sense of scale, the loud colors, the striped femininity . . . Is Nan Goldin pushing an agenda HERE? Sure. Why not? Hell, it's even titled, "Nan, One Month After Being Battered."
     
  67. Damn, Fred! I had never seen half of those, especially that last one.
    Yes, "plenty of well-respected and effective photography is manipulative and born of an agenda." I have to concede yet another point. It's good that we are not playing for money this morning.
    --Lannie
     
  68. Mapplethorp as an icon! Who knew. Only the cognoscenti?
     
  69. Thanks Lannie. You're right on the money when you describe how you feel about a photograph as having to do with what you bring to it. I alluded this in my original post and this is why I think it's not something that many photographers should spend too much time concerned about. I mean the history of photography is filled with talented men and women whose work inspired needed social change. Sure they had an agenda to push with their pictures, this was a necessity due to their vocation but I'm sure they also felt strongly about what they were photographing and surely they wanted to evoke similar emotions in the people who would look at their pictures.
    I remember reading about W. Eugene Smiths photo essay "Nurse Midwife" in Life magazine and how after that story ran, a huge amount of donations poured in for Maude Callen to build a modern medical clinic for her to work in. Obviously Life's readers were very moved and inspired by the story and photographs.
    However, I'm not W. Eugene Smith (nor Walker Evens, Lewis Hine, or Margaret Bourke-White) I'm just a simple guy with a 40 hour day job who enjoys photography in my free time. So my concerns are not what theirs were. Maybe if I got started in photography when I was much younger I would tried to pursue it as a career but I'm content with just the simple act of taking pictures and trying new things. If any of my photos stir an emotion in someone or cause them to think about something in a new way then that's wonderful, it's the icing on the cake.
    One of the best compliments I've ever received about my pictures came from a friend of my sisters who saw a portfolio I brought with me to a family visit. Unbeknownst to me my sister grabbed the portfolio and showed it to this lady. A week after this lady looked at the photos she told my sister she was still thinking about them. What an amazing thing to say and of course it made me feel good to hear it. However, what I'm trying to say is that even if this wasn't the case, I wouldn't change a thing. I would still get out there like I'm going to do later today and take the kinds of pictures that draw me in and I can't do this if I'm concerned about about whether they will invoke an emotion in whomever might see them in the future.
     
  70. Mapplethorp as an icon! Who knew. Only the cognoscenti?​
    Sandy, I gave Mapplethorpe as an example of someone who had an agenda and who I believe was manipulative at least in some of his work. Do you think that means I'm turning him into an icon? Why? Because I referenced him? Does my referencing Mapplethorpe make me one of the cognoscenti? And what does this have to do with the topic here? Do you think Mapplethorpe wasn't manipulative and did you want to make that point and back it up? Do you think Mapplethorpe is off limits in your idea of a discussion of photography and emotion? What exactly is your issue here?
     
  71. Fred, no offense intended, icon was probably a poor word choice. A very long time ago, nearly half a century, I graduated college with majors in the arts. I did not pursue the arts as career, but a college friend did. He became a writer and active member of the Avant guard community. This was back when people could be "shocked" by things, so my friend took as his mission exposing me to all sorts of examples of the "cutting edge" of the arts. We went to galleries, off, off Broadway plays, poetry readings and so on. One place we went was an early Mapplethorpe show -- he may even have been present. The work was skillful, but clearly intended to shock. I was not shocked, but it wasn't a genre that interested me, and in its intent , to me then, seemed rather immature. Calculated, like a small boy swearing for effect. Occasionally, over the years, I have seen other photos, obviously, more controversial ones, and have not pursued it further. I suppose I was recycling those impressions. Clearly he was a person of some stature in the arts community. The interest endures and his pictures sell. May he rest in peace.
    Going all the way back, the topic was not recording emotion, being emotional as a photographer, but portraying emotion in an image so that it "speaks" that emotion to the viewer. There are many and varied ways to accomplish that goal. Art is not necessarily or even usually truth, but often artifice that creates the desired illusion / result. My opinion.
    Apologies, I apparently am no longer a scholar and usually try to cut to the heart of issues as I see them rather than discussing all of the possible facets and permutations. I probably will have the good sense to avoid this kind of thread in future.
    I'm not annoyed, and hope you are not.
     
  72. Art is not necessarily or even usually truth, but often artifice that creates the desired illusion / result. My opinion.​
    Very much agree with you on this. Goes along with what Lannie said above about acting. One can photographically imbue a scene with an emotion through the kind of artifice you're talking about. It doesn't have to be captured in the sense of having been there already. It can be created. To me, that doesn't make it any less real or authentic and sometimes it actually makes it feel more genuine because the photographer went out of his way to create/express it rather than simply going out to find it. It all depends on how well expressed/conveyed the emotion is, whether found or created.

    Interestingly, in creating a desired illusion which expresses a genuine emotion (even if that's done through artifice), I think there is truth. Not the kind of truth that is mere accuracy or alignment, but a deeper kind of truth that reaches people whether the photographer comes across an actual emotion or has a hand in creating one.
     
  73. Stirring up emotions is not Capturing an Emotion.
     
  74. In photographic terms, creating Hemmingway's "one true sentence" and going on from there.
     
  75. Not all emotions can be captured. I certainly concede that. Several years ago when I had a studio I had a
    contract with a hospital to do PR shots of their doctors. I had an appointment with a psychiatrist whom I never
    met. She came through the door and I saw a lovely self possessed woman. She sat down and down and I
    viewed her through finder on my Bronica. She looked lovely but radiated warm sexuality in her pose like a come
    hither stare evocative of Greta Garbo. I said "you look far too unprofessionally sexy for my bosses to print what I
    see" I was shooting a series of pictures as I said that. She had reacted with completely unrestrained open
    mouthed laughter that I captured. We had a wonderful and memorable session and I got some beautiful pictures
    that did conform to my bosses expectations and I got keep those sexy poses of her.
     
  76. Stirring up emotions is not Capturing an Emotion.​
    Julie, it was a flawed way of setting the question from the beginning. I tried to correct it in my post of Jan 25, 2016; 11:18 p.m., conceding that Fred's way of framing the question was more promising.
    --Lannie
     
  77. One can photographically imbue a scene with an emotion through the kind of artifice you're talking about. It doesn't have to be captured in the sense of having been there already. It can be created. To me, that doesn't make it any less real or authentic and sometimes it actually makes it feel more genuine because the photographer went out of his way to create/express it rather than simply going out to find it. It all depends on how well expressed/conveyed the emotion is, whether found or created. --Fred G.​
    I agree, Fred. In photography as in literature, we can speak truth through fiction.
    --Lannie
     
  78. Was that really all you wanted, Lannie?
    Moving from the Philo forum to the Casual forum should have promised some new fresh air, though.
    I had hope for more novel subjects and viewpoints and more inclusive debates between photographers.
    We have been there so many times before.
     
  79. Anders, I am simply affirming with Fred that there are at least two separate questions involved, and that we need to understand which one we are trying to answer.
    I would not want to discourage anyone from responding here as he or she sees fit. Casual conversations are going to wander around a bit, I guess. I rather unthinkingly threw out two separate questions. Persons may certainly respond as they see fit to either. I am not, after all, the moderator here. In any case, the questions are "already out there," to use that great line uttered by Billy Crystal in When Harry Met Sally.
    For the record, I do consider Fred's emphasis to be more interesting of the two questions I inadvertently mixed up together, but I am not blind to the force that can come with capturing expressions as evidence of emotion. We can certainly misread faces and expressions, but every day, with or without cameras, we are trying to read faces to try to find out what persons are thinking and feeling. People often try to hide their emotions, but their expressions or other mannerisms often reveal more than they know. This is hardly to say that we always read faces correctly as to what the person is thinking or feeling, but we certainly do keep trying. Photographs can sometimes freeze the expression, but out of context they might not tell us very much. Horror or sadness? Yes, they can show that, but they cannot show the depth or complexity of emotion with certainty if divorced from the context.
    Here is one of mine that I never inquired about. (I knew the two people. I could have asked, "What was that about?" but I was very reluctant to do that, and so I did not.) From the looks of her expression, she appears not only surprised but shocked, even horrified. I have, I think, captured an emotion of some sort. I certainly have not necessarily evoked one in the viewer--nor was I trying to.
    --Lannie
    00diDv-560464984.jpg
     
  80. Lannie wrote: "In photography as in literature, we can speak truth through fiction." [end Lannie quote]


    "Historical claims are truth claims and, as such are subject to challenge by appeal to evidence. Imagination in history, therefore, is substantially different from imagination in art." — R.G. Collingwood
     
  81. "we can speak truth through fiction"
    Also in social and human sciences, fiction is part of the toolbox, which has been used for centuries in order to approach a "truth" (among other contesting truth-statements) about societal, historical, social and human phenomena waiting to be verified as Julie rightly underline: Fictional case studies, fictional dialogues like Wilhelm Reich's infamous "Conversation With a Hairdresser’s Assistant".
    In arts, there is no truth out there to convey. Only questions and sometimes answers to questions no-one has ever thought of posing to anyone - seeing the unseen.
    But what has that to do with emotions ?
     
  82. The discussion about truth arose, Anders, through Fred's quote above:
    It [emotion] doesn't have to be captured in the sense of having been there already. It can be created. To me, that doesn't make it any less real or authentic and sometimes it actually makes it feel more genuine because the photographer went out of his way to create/express it rather than simply going out to find it. It all depends on how well expressed/conveyed the emotion is, whether found or created.​
    --Lannie
     
  83. In arts, there is no truth out there to convey.​
    Anders, the arts include not only photography and painting but literature and theater as well. One may certainly use any of these media to present or make claims about reality, including human nature. Surely you would agree that one may certainly express truths through the arts. As for "out there," what do you mean? Even the teachers in the Bible have used stories (parables) to make claims about ethical or other truths.
    I would even go so far as to suggest that the arts can be used to falsify truth claims, implying to me that the distinction between art and science is not as great as might be (and has been) argued.
    --Lannie
     
  84. Lannie, this is what I see as one of the pivotal and personal points of your comments:
    I think that all of us would like to create powerful photographs that do evoke strong responses from viewers. [Let's just assume you and I would at least some of the time!]
    How do we do that? It is not difficult to create images that make for pleasant viewing. It is not difficult to create images that record or "capture" strong emotional reactions on the part of the subjects, evinced by the expressions they show on their faces. What is difficult is finding out to evoke strong, powerful emotional responses on the part of viewers.
    It can come from combining various personal needs and desires. The more personal I get the more I find my work evoking emotions. Think of situations that evoke emotion in you. Are your emotions more stirred by a woman who comes dressed flawlessly to the party, who has the best manners, who has met all the right people and been to all the right parties? Or are they stirred by the woman who has a few flaws, who lets her hair down, who maybe tears up when something touches her and allows herself to be vulnerable and in the moment?
    You linked to my PHOTO OF STUART above. Yes, there was a comfort level. There's also a formality, which I, myself, felt and sensed from Stuart as well, part of that being a hesitant sexual tension. As we were shooting close to one of his walls, I noticed that the strong side light coming through his window was casting a distinct and somewhat ominous shadow. I love film noir and that's what it made me think of, so I went with whatever drama and artifice I could add by using the strong shadow fairly blatantly. He took to the idea as well and that helped us to bond and loosen us up in terms of getting some photos. While I didn't know him well, it seemed to bring out some potential in him that was worth pursuing.
    These were my thoughts at the time, and not even fully-formed thoughts to be honest: Middle-aged gay man, nude, film noir.
    Here's a little analysis after the fact even though none of this analysis was at play during the shoot. I photograph a lot of middle-aged gay men because they’re easily available to me. After doing so for a while, I realized that I appreciated giving voice to an older gay population that wasn't used to having the camera pointed at them, a group of men who were starting to feel invisible in a community that paid more attention to youth and a certain kind of looks. Not only do I love film noir. It’s also popular in gay circles and it’s kind of a camp delight. But there’s also authentically-felt cynicism and sexuality that film noir often deals with that gay men my age seem to relate to. So the combination of being intimate with gay men of a certain age, taking their pictures, often nude, and incorporating a film noir style, at least in this photo, seems to combine some personal layering for me and provide some overlapping emotional connections. This is not necessarily something I'd expect or even want viewers to pick up on specifically but I think it still has its effect. This photo does seem to evoke emotions in viewers and I think that's at least partly because there is a personal connection among the emotional strands and ties between photographer, subject, context, and style.
    Several photographers that invoke emotion for me seem to do this sort of thing, seem to weave together themselves, their subject, the context, and stylistic or photographic choices. Moriymana is one. It’s not just that I like high contrast (sometimes almost graphic) style and that I feel he does a good job with that style. It’s that I feel he weaves his subject matter, the content of his photos, with that style and it feels like it comes from a place of personal meaning for him and hits me in the gut. Brassai is another one. His street scenes (with people and without) seem not to just be observed but to be imbued with a kind of atmosphere he’s experiencing at the time, his use of mist, light, and perspective to create what I call “presence” seems to tie his style with his content in a personal way to which I react emotionally. Nan Goldin does it for me as well. Her subject matter, often women and children, unclear or downright dreary relationships with men, seem to be bathed in her style, which utilizes color that bleeds from light to shadow and that washes over her content in an evocative way. It’s not a style for style’s sake. It’s a style that seems born of her content and herself.
    Lannie, not sure how my thoughts will translate, if at all, to your own work. There are so many other ways in which emotions can be evoked. But I said I wanted to get down to brass tacks, which entails not destroying the magic but trying to understand it a bit better. I don’t think anyone can tell you specifically how to evoke emotion with your photos. In general, what works for your own evocation of emotions has to come from you, personally and authentically. I offer you my story and what I get from a few photographers I happen to like as examples for inspiration rather than as something you would necessarily want to mimic.
     
  85. It’s not a style for style’s sake. It’s a style that seems born of her content and herself.​
    Lannie's question and Fred's comment on his approach, on the importance of making photos that have personal meaning for him, and what he also senses in the work of of Nan Goldin (above quote) go a long way for me in providing an answer or solution to the OP.
    Perhaps it is when one is committed to a certain personal ethic of perception or approach in photography that recognizing and capturing emotion is favored. When one has a passion about certain subjects or a photographic approach it makes sense to me that one's receptivity to various things such as emotion (one's own or that of a subject) is enhanced. The problem I find is that when I feel an emotion in regard to subject matter I have difficulty communicating that to others and also wish to do so without creating artificial or too-contrived bridges to, or with, the viewer. The latter occur if I try to exaggerate what I feel or what I think the subject feels, or what it (if an inanimate object) conveys. I like to shoot in the context of pre-established themes and when those themes evoke an emotion in me or vehicle emotion in themselves I try to undertake my photography by observing and studying what it is about a particular subject that provides that emotion or creates that feeling in me. I am not sure this makes very much sense to others but it is all I have to go by in regard to the subject of the OP and admit that for me imbuing my photographs with emotion it is not an easy challenge. Perhaps that is one reason why I welcome it.
     
  86. Arthur, Lannie doesn't want to talk about striving for any specific emotion.
    Now that all emotions are the target of the thread, let's see where we are: good photos cause an emotional reaction. Bad photos also cause an emotional reaction ("Blech!"). Am I leaving anything out?
    ***************
    What about the people in the photos?
    For example, here is a description of Tammy Rae Carland (by Sarah Thornton):
    She grew up in rural Maine, the daughter of a single mother who worked as a waitress and had five children from three different men. Tammy Rae was the first person in her family to graduate from high school. "I grew up in the kind of welfare-class neighborhood that art students visited to do their 'street photography' assignments," she says. During a seminar at a local art school, she was embarrassed to see a slide of her mother sullenly sitting at a bus stop on a cold winter day.​
    Carland's "embarrassed" emotion is probably not what the photographer felt when making the picture. (Carland's own work is staged.) How many of the subjects that we are seeing shown in those photos posted to this thread would, as viewers of those pictures of themselves (or their family or friends), have felt the same emotional response as the photographer who made the pictures?
    Or, how about this: [LINK]
     
  87. The problem I find is that when I feel an emotion in regard to subject matter I have difficulty communicating that to others and also wish to do so without creating artificial or too-contrived bridges to, or with, the viewer. The latter occur if I try to exaggerate what I feel or what I think the subject feels, or what it (if an inanimate object) conveys.​
    Arthur, as a practical matter, I understand what you're saying and I think there's a balance we each want to achieve and that balance will be different for each of us.

    Something that happened with Stuart is that as we both got into the process of making the photo, paying attention to the shape of the shadow, what was happening to his chest and eyes as he moved in the light, his feeling the heat of the sun on his face, my wanting to get different angles on his face relative to the shadow, we both got out of ourselves to some extent. I didn't ask but he seemed not to be thinking about what he would look like and I wasn't really thinking about what he or I was feeling or conveying (thinking about what I'm feeling, in the moment, can get in the way of feeling it). For me, emotion is like doing something. You get caught up in it.

    Arthur, do you have an example of a photo where you feel you exaggerated or were too contrived in building that bridge and do you have an example of a photo where you think you did better? There's probably some difference between communicating and evoking . . . and I think photos (can) do both. If we compare one that works for you and one you're dissatisfied with, it would help understand the difficulty and might lead to some new ways of approaching it.
     
  88. >>> ... imbuing my photographs with emotion it is not an easy challenge.
    Indeed. That is what separates many of the above photos/links. Some portray emotion naturally and result in a strong connection and photo. Some portray what feels to me is a heavy-handed attempt at imbuing emotion (and is really about trying to imbue significance) as if it was sprinkled out of a salt shaker, where the photograph then becomes an exaggeration and more about what was forcefully imbued.
    Just because the imbued significance/emotion dial maxes out at 11 doesn't mean it needs to be cranked up that high in every situation, or even used at all. As a couple of examples, Allen's photos and Lannie's mother hit the sweet spot in releasing emotion.
     
  89. Fred, thanks for your comment. I will have to come back to that interesting question later as it requires a bit of searching and I am struggling on my income tax this afternoon (possibly a little emotional!). An easy answer for a photo that I think succeeded without exaggerating is the one I posted of the little girl in the apple orchard, although some may well feel that it does not create/display enough emotion (subject or photographer). But then I prefer subtle communication in photography to the too obvious.
     
  90. Lannie, not sure how my thoughts will translate, if at all, to your own work. There are so many other ways in which emotions can be evoked. But I said I wanted to get down to brass tacks, which entails not destroying the magic but trying to understand it a bit better. I don’t think anyone can tell you specifically how to evoke emotion with your photos. In general, what works for your own evocation of emotions has to come from you, personally and authentically. --Fred G.​
    Thank you for that and for that entire eloquent post, Fred. Surely you are right. If we do not "feel it" when we shoot it, then we have nothing to communicate to others. To be authentic, it really does seem to have to come from the gut--our own gut. Not everyone will relate to it (to what we feel or have felt), of course, but those who have "been there" (or been in analogous situations) might--and our emotions might resonate strongly with those persons. That is probably the best that one can expect, that at least a handful of potential viewers will have some idea of why we are shooting what we are shooting, and perhaps even feel what we felt, at least to some degree.
    Fred, thank you for your very substantial contributions to this thread. I knew that you would have something of significance to say on this topic.
    --Lannie
     
  91. Now that all emotions are the target of the thread, let's see where we are: good photos cause an emotional reaction. Bad photos also cause an emotional reaction ("Blech!"). Am I leaving anything out? --Julie H.​
    It looks like you have checkmated me again, Julie.
    --Lannie
     
  92. The problem I find is that when I feel an emotion in regard to subject matter I have difficulty communicating that to others and also wish to do so without creating artificial or too-contrived bridges to, or with, the viewer. The latter occur if I try to exaggerate what I feel or what I think the subject feels, or what it (if an inanimate object) conveys. I like to shoot in the context of pre-established themes and when those themes evoke an emotion in me or vehicle emotion in themselves I try to undertake my photography by observing and studying what it is about a particular subject that provides that emotion or creates that feeling in me. I am not sure this makes very much sense to others but it is all I have to go by in regard to the subject of the OP and admit that for me imbuing my photographs with emotion it is not an easy challenge. Perhaps that is one reason why I welcome it.
    --Arthur Plumpton​
    Thank you for that, Arthur. I do feel a great deal when I am prowling the hinterland of North Carolina or the streets of my small town (Salisbury, near Charlotte) at night. I have no idea how many persons can relate to what I shoot. Steve Gubin in his own recent long thread said that there is a certain loneliness evident in what I shoot. There can be that. Sometimes it can be the serenity that comes with solitude. Either way, it is certain that there is no formula for making a photo that others can relate to and that others can feel, but sometimes one wishes that there were.
    I confess that when I am at my best I am simply out there glorying in the moment. Or, at least, those are the moments that I enjoy the most. Again, though, I do not know if there are very many persons who can relate to what I am doing or what I am feeling when I shoot. If there is only one, then perhaps it is worth the trouble. Perhaps if there is no one who gets it, I at least have had a meaningful experience with my little magic box with a lens stuck on it.
    I like to think that other photographers understand what I am trying to do, even if my particular subjects do not interest them very much.
    --Lannie
     
  93. Lannie, something to consider is that viewers—or at least I as a viewer—won't always consider what the photographer may have been feeling, especially when I first look at a photo. I will feel something and that goes more to what the photographer is showing me and how he/she is showing it than what he/she may have been feeling. I've taken some pretty good photos when I'm just at the end of my rope and kind of tired and about ready to give up for the day. And, yet, they may well make viewers feel quite differently than that.
    Not sure how you were feeling (or even if it matters) when you took THIS PHOTO. But this is in the ballpark of what I was talking about above, with the idea of strands of connectedness within a photo that will often reach me. So, it's a photo of singers, in the act. But the way you shot it, intentionally or not, has a very rhythmic, musical quality, the repetition of faces tightly framed, the hands almost as grace notes punctuating the melodic faces, the woman's ring like an oboe hinting at something through the wash of the strings. For me, a photo whose subject or content is music which is then presented musically is evocative. There's an organic and emotional coherence, the technique or composition or style (whatever you want to call it) supporting and echoing the content. Those hands in the upper right corner, with no face, coming out of the darkness are like the very heart of music, coming out of silence.
     
  94. Thanks, Fred. I always liked that photo and thought that that was one of my better crops from a larger file.
    I didn't see this particular crop when I shot or I would have zoomed in even closer. I do think that that smiling face at right sets it off.
    --Lannie
     
  95. Here is a larger crop of the same shot, Fred.
    I am attaching it as well, but it can be seen bigger on the link.
    --Lannie
    00diKO-560482484.jpg
     
  96. Here is one by Anders which is highly evocative for me, in part because of the time that I have spent on the Southeast coast--not to mention thirty-two days in two trips to Cuba. (I know that Anders' shot was made in Hong Kong, but similar palm trees can be found in the tropics around the world--and along sub-tropical coasts as well.)
    --Lannie
     
  97. As for Brad's recent shots, take your pick.
    My favorite one there is the third one, with the wall of the building dwarfing the human presence on the street.
    --Lannie
     
  98. Lannie, thank you for initiating this OP which has yielded some very useful and formitive discussion, examples and ideas. Brad's recent shots may not all evoke emotions but they are very good and consistent with his approach. Photography allows us to know more about ourselves as well as the world in which we live. Like many of those here, making photos is a preferred activities that stretches imagination and experience. Just being part of that personal process is as rewarding as seeing some of our photos sought by others.
     
  99. Lannie, thanks for linking to my very fictional image of palm leaves from Hong Kong. Pure fiction, based on a genuine photo, like others of mine (here, here or here) in a long series on visual illusions and human disquietude from what we (some of us) see and feel faced with nature, cities and artifacts. Seeing the unseen.
    By the way, my reference, ages ago, in this discussion on "emotions", I made to the misuse of the term "truth" in many a discussion in these forums was based on a profound conviction, that arts and creative activities of Man never convey any emotions or messages, that can deserve the term. Photography, like other arts (and sciences too in fact, but that is a longer discussion), convey interrogations, uncertainty on what each of us and society at large believe about reality; gives answers to question we yet haven't posed, show the yet unseen.
    Ps, Lannie when I use the term "out there", it just refer to what lies beyond your narrow self, out in society among people and events. Some of us would start there, others I fear, might never arrive.
     
  100. Lannie, I may be completely off base here, but from your postings, it seems to me as if you're seeking a narrative -- guiding, underlying, touchstone, primordial even; or something like that. Emotions make sense in a (known) narrative.
     
  101. Emotions make sense in a (known) narrative. --Julie H.​
    Yes, that is really it, isn't it? As always, you are always at least one step ahead of me, Julie.
    You are one of the few lit critters who make much sense to me.
    --Lannie
     
  102. Lannie wrote: "you are always at least one step ahead of me"
    No ... no I'm not. It took me (how many days has this been going on?) to notice what seems to me now to be glaringly important (narrative, which I know you mentioned pages ago) and now, to find it fascinating to think about. How composition builds/generates narrative structure, and in consequence, emotion more or less falls into place and/or falls out quite naturally. How, paradoxically, the non-emotional content is key to the efficacy of the emotional content.
    I would not have gotten into such interesting mullings-over (I truly love doing this) without you guys keeping this thread up and going. Thank you, Lannie.
     
  103. And then there are some who might say "Narrative in a two-dimensional instantaneous image - give me a break!” I don't believe this 100%, but I love to throw an occasional monkey into the wrench (or monkey wrench into the mix? Whatever).
    Cheers for now, I'm not running from that comment but the never-ending tax return prep (actually two, and complicated by a part time business and split government revenue ministries) pulls me into its famished and gaping mouth.
     
  104. Arthur wrote: "And then there are some who might say "Narrative in a two-dimensional instantaneous image - give me a break!” "
    You mean there is BAD art????!!!!! Say it's not so!!
    [monkey wrenches are good; if (and only if) we can beat the hell out of an idea with our monkey wrenches and it keeps coming back, then maybe we're onto something ... ]
     
  105. Julie, monkey business aside, I think we may be using the word narrative very differently. Telling a story, or even just suggesting it, seems to require at best several photos within a series to create a narrative. Otherwise, photos are often no more extensive than a single word or just a few words without verb. Do I need to check the definition of narrative or can you show single photo that provides a narrative rather than simply evoking a sense of beauty, emotion, symbolism, disequilibrium or an other singular statement?
     
  106. Telling a story, or even just suggesting it, seems to require at best several photos within a series to create a narrative.​

    I understand your point, Arthur, but a single photo may impel us to create a likely narrative. I'm not sure if that counts or not by Julie's criteria.
    --Lannie
     
  107. Arthur wrote: "I think we may be using the word narrative very differently."
    Yes, we sure are. Take any iconic emotional photo (just for easy reference), say Migrant Mother and hold your fingers over the face expressing the emotions. Look at all/every detail of that photographs composition. See how it weaves into a narrative. Or, conversely, take the same picture and look at only the face, leaving out all the surrounding content/compositional arrangement. See how much less or how very differently it emotes without the compositional narrative. Note that tone and color are narrative elements.
    See also the craft of cinematography before any action takes place (lighting, color/tone, angle, etc.).
     
  108. A picture "worth a thousand words" thus a narrative.
     
  109. Julie, I think any narrative from a single photo is created in the mind of the viewer. If I see just the face of the migrant worker I can construct my story (expand what I see) based on that. My "story" will likely be quite different different from that of another. If I then include one or more of her children then the expansion from simple image (and I use simple only in the sense of the photo having limitations and not to diminish it - it is a great image) to one involving more elements doesn't increase the narrative of the image only that which I imagine upon seeing the subjects in a certain pose and what is around them. My interpretation then changes based on what I see.
    But it is the viewer who creates any narrative, as the photo just makes a simple statement - that we are seeing a very poor family or perhaps rescued victims of some event. If I then have a date or place I can assume that the statement is related to dustbowl induced poverty or to the effects of a depression or whatever.
    If I see just the face I get one impression of the person I am looking at and her situation The expansion from simple statement to a "story" then could be something like an ill-treated wife or ill person. Seeing her children and the surroundings might enable me to interpret something quite different and closer to the intent of the photographer or what he or she was actually photographing.
    Can you accept that a photograph is only a statement and not a narrative and any expansion of that statement into something like a narrative comes from the viewer and each viewer will likely have somewhat different interpretations. Of course, the example picture has come to us with a written narrative, so that sort of disqualifies it as a pure example where no "narrative" precedes it.
    Does this change anything for you?
     
  110. So, Arthur, the photographer's role is "interpreter" or personal value actuated propagandist?
     
  111. ... be able to move blindly within the limits of the set, the pavement a catwalk or a dike which extends beyond the frame, you a sentinel or a voyeur, she knows that you can't see anything in order to see the picture and not just the street on which she happens to have stopped during one of her nightly excursions, you must also close your eyes, remain outside and cruise your mind, her lovesong implores you to return to your cage and to come up with an idea which will illuminate her picture, the accidental has only one factor, good fortune has two ...
    ... Because the viewer cannot trace the trickles of blood to their source, because the effect has been separated from its cause, because she is not a journalist interested in showing the fact itself, she shows what it means to show the fact, she retrieves and allows the difference to appear.
    Alexander Garcia Düttmann
    Cruise your mind.
    Arthur, for me, 'statement' is like a nail. By contrast, for me, a narrative however amorphous, is like a blooming. The curtain goes up ...
     
  112. "The curtain goes up ..."​
    Right .... and in my experience it is the the viewer who is then on stage, creating narrative from statement, growing with that, while the image may still fill the role of a prompter, if the viewer loses his line.
     
  113. HERE'S a storytelling photo by Brassai, more to me than either an exclamation or a statement, which I think some photos lean toward. I wouldn't expect the story to be the same for everyone any more than I'd expect the exclamation or statement to be the same for everyone in a less narratively-oriented photo. And I don't expect the exclamation, statement, or story to be as specific or literal as I would in, for example, a novel. When I use the word "story" or "narrative" to apply to photos, I am translating key elements to the medium of photography.
    In the photos I look at and the photos I make, the ones with more narrative to them, the ones with more storytelling, are generally the ones that capture my imagination and also stay with me and grow on me over time. In my own portfolio, the ones that accomplish more storytelling are the ones that inspire me the most and the ones I'd like most to build on in the future.
    If being a story is about connections, among characters and events, then to the extent there are connected characters, objects, and events in a photo, there's a story, even if it's an ambiguous or non-specific one. What's so wonderful about photos is they can take either connected or disparate characters and events and, because of their winding up within the same frame, a connection is established, so a visual story is being told. In the Brassai, the car may or may not have something to do with these people but, photographically, it does, forever. It is now part of their story just as they are part of its. The light in the distance is part of their story and it's connected to the light of the flashlight. The headlights of the parked car, still on and shining on the garage door are part of the story. Not just the object which is the flashlight, but whether it's just illuminating their path or is in search of something lost, or some other possibility, are elements of the narrative. Possibility, I'd suggest, is key here. Coherent (yet sometimes ambiguous, mysterious, and even surreal) possibilities, suggested by content, mood, composition, style, light, etc., create this sense of photographic narrative for me. For me, this is the flip side of photos capturing a moment. A moment, IMO, is filled with befores, afters, maybes, maybe-nots, history, future, action, intention, longing, . . . Those are ways the story is driven.
    One hint is that when I look at the Brassai above, I feel very similarly to the way I feel when I'm in bed at night reading a good novel. Why is that?
     
  114. good photos cause an emotional reaction. Bad photos also cause an emotional reaction ("Blech!"). Am I leaving anything out?​
    Yes. Any and every stimulus we experience, I suppose, can be said to cause an emotional response, so in that sense, sure all photos, good and bad, cause emotional responses. So does everything else in life. I didn't think that's what we were talking about, though. I thought we were talking about being moved or having a significant emotional response. Many bad photos just don't move me. They may move me as much or as little as a fly landing on my arm or one of many thousands of nudges I get from fellow passengers on the bus, but that's not the kind of movement I took Lannie to be talking about.
     
  115. Fred wrote: "but that's not the kind of movement I took Lannie to be talking about." I know. And that's what has annoyed me about Lannie's re-definition of this thread which is way too flabby. He should be able to say what 'kind of movement' he/we are after (and which we're going after, anyway, which is confusing).
    *******************
    Anders wrote, reference 'truth': "Photography, like other arts (and sciences too in fact, but that is a longer discussion), convey interrogations, uncertainty on what each of us and society at large believe about reality ... "
    In emotions, belief is all you will ever have. Therefore if one believes an emotion is true, then, effectively, it is. I'm going to claim that that is the truth. : )
    An example that you can use to disagree with me: the work of Elinor Carucci. It's beautifully crafted, but, to me, it doesn't get the emotions (which is what her work is all about). It's too crafted, too complete, too sculptural, too in control. Most of all, because she strips out everything but the emotional beings (herself and her family). Wherever she leaves in surrounding content, I find the pictures better but there's never enough to make the pictures really come to life for me. (I expect many of you will like them because of the things I'm complaining about.)
    In this series [LINK] where she's documenting a fight with her husband, I just don't find the emotions believable. I can, in a mechanical way, to a 2+2 following of her arrangements and see 4, but in a good emotional photograph, I expect to see 2+2 = 5 or, (looking at Brad) sometimes 11.
    Her series on pain is her best, emotionally, in my opinion [LINK]. She gets out of the way, she leaves in enough extraneous 'stuff' to let me roam, she feels rather than forces what she's representing.
    Here is her series on her mother [LINK] and her series on being a mother herself [LINK]. All kinds of attempts at emotional imagery that I find luke warm. Going for 2+2=11 and getting much less. I believe the situations; I don't believe the emotions.
     
  116. It's beautifully crafted, but, to me, it doesn't get the emotions​
    Agree that some stuff is like this. This is how Ansel Adams's photos work for me, beautifully crafted but don't get the emotions. Weston's, on the other hand, get the emotions AND are beautifully crafted. Not sure how this relates to "good photos cause an emotional reaction. Bad photos also cause an emotional reaction" which didn't seem to me to be saying much of anything. Of course, now we're heading toward a discussion of what's a "good" photo. Is it one that's beautifully crafted (but doesn't get the emotions) or does it need to get the emotions as well in order to be good? This is a discussion I won't be pursuing, preferring to hear how people evoke different sorts of emotions in their work (what photographic techniques people use to do so, or what photographic qualities people rely on), especially if they think their work is lacking it and they'd like to try to be more evocative, which I believe is what Lannie was after.
     
  117. So, maybe a way to look at Lannie's question is to take a photographer like Adams for me or Carucci for Julie. If we say they don't evoke emotions, what is it that's missing? Maybe the more we try to describe it in visual terms, the more we can start to answer Lannie's question. I think Julie does a good job of that with regard to Carucci. It would be really great for Arthur to finish up his taxes (UGH!) and get back to us with an example of his that doesn't work for him and maybe looking carefully will help determine why it doesn't work emotionally and what could have or could still be done to get it to work emotionally. Maybe Lannie could do that as well. Lannie, you often express disappointment over your own work on this emotional level—sometimes I think that's unjustified but certainly your own disappointment can be important. So, maybe you could post a photo of yours where you were feeling something in particular, and name that feeling, and talk about why the photo doesn't seem to evoke that emotion and maybe we could discuss what's missing or what kinds of things could have been done to make it more evocative of what you wanted out of the photo.
     
  118. "imbuing my photographs with emotion it is not an easy challenge "Brad.
    Indeed, imbuing photos with Art is also not a easy challenge...but you do it. Not back patting but just the way it is for those with eyes that can see.
    I think we can be lost in space in this discussion where the words are considered more revealing than the photograph. A photograph has its own language...to understand the language takes imagination, appreciation, and thought.
    Allow/respect the photograph to work for itself; and join it on a journey of imagination...
     
  119. >>> "imbuing my photographs with emotion it is not an easy challenge "Brad.
    You had me going there, Allen. That is not my quote. Imbuing emotion or significance into my photos is not something I'd ever say or claim.
     
  120. Lannie, you often express disappointment over your own work on this emotional level—sometimes I think that's unjustified but certainly your own disappointment can be important. So, maybe you could post a photo of yours where you were feeling something in particular, and name that feeling, and talk about why the photo doesn't seem to evoke that emotion and maybe we could discuss what's missing or what kinds of things could have been done to make it more evocative of what you wanted out of the photo.​
    Fred, I am not sure if "awe" or even "oneness with nature" can be considered as "emotions." I almost always feel a "certain something" when I am shooting, but I am not sure that I can begin to express it. Nonetheless, HERE is one that I shot at dusk over a year ago that resonated with me, but I am not sure that it evokes any particular kind of emotional response in others.
    What do I feel when I am out shooting at dusk? I feel a certain magic, but I have never heard that labeled as an emotion.
    --Lannie
     
  121. Fred wrote: "but that's not the kind of movement I took Lannie to be talking about." I know. And that's what has annoyed me about Lannie's re-definition of this thread which is way too flabby. He should be able to say what 'kind of movement' he/we are after (and which we're going after, anyway, which is confusing). --Julie H.​
    I'm sorry, Julie. I guess that I am back with Fred in saying that the photo does not have to show emotion in facial expressions in order to be able to evoke emotions. Thus do I find certain works by Steichen and Stieglitz very powerful, even though the human presence is not always directly evident.
    In what way(s) are they powerful, and in what way(s) do they move us? Gosh, I really do not know how to answer that. That can vary so much from picture to picture. Sometimes the power and/or emotional force lies in the pure aesthetic value of the photo. Sometimes it seems to come from the social message, as in shots from the Depression. I cannot nail down this "elusive something" as one single thing. Perhaps "emotion" was not even the best word. I do think that redefining and rephrasing questions is a valid way to proceed, but I did not mean to suggest that that should be my prerogative alone. Sometimes our questions (philosophical or otherwise) are themselves limiting or otherwise flawed, inviting others to rephrase them.
    The thread is open-ended in that regard, as far as I am concerned. I have no idea where the next insight is going to come from. When I consider the vast range of photos that can strike me with force--and yes, sometimes emotion--I am at a complete loss to say what they might have in common.
    --Lannie
     
  122. It is interesting to me to see how variants of the same photo can vary so much in their power to move me. Is it only about aesthetics? I really do not know.
    Sometimes the photo seems to draw power from the context. Sometimes not. Here is the larger context of the shot linked above: a simple drive across town at dusk.
    This one might be the moodiest of those in the same folder, all made within minutes of each other. Is moodiness an emotion? Hows does the mood that the photo evokes relate to the emotion(s) that it might invoke?
    --Lannie
     
  123. emotion - instinctive or intuitive feeling as distinguished from reasoning or knowledge.

    HERE are some lists of emotions.
    I don't think mood is an emotion. A mood evokes feelings or emotions. A sombre mood might evoke feelings of sadness. Dusk might make one feel melancholy.
    HERE'S a photo by Joel Meyerowitz. Dusk helps create the mood and provides an appropriate backdrop for the melancholy or loneliness evoked by the lone tree at this time of day, echoed by the side-by-side trees, isolated, in the distance and enhanced by the surrounding reflections.
    Things I find evocative about THIS Meyerowitz dusk photo are the division of the frame by the pole, strong yet easily acceptable and even organic but with a bit of an edge, the light of the telephone booth, which artificially harmonizes with the natural light and time of day, in keeping with the overall color palette, which consists of muted pastels. The artificial light of the booth against the twilight of the atmosphere has that same kind of organic edge. I get warmth, quiet peacefulness, composure, with a distant knocking on the door.
    The two photos, IMO, have a similar mood but evoke different emotions in me. The first has more loneliness/longing, the second more peacefulness/resolution. Strangely, there's overlap between the loneliness/longing of the first and the peacefulness/resolution of the second. They are not opposite ends of the spectrum.
     
  124. Scenic mood is an emotion in search of a body. Vision is an at-a-distance sense. Compare it to hearing (music). You can hear the screaming dissonance of the music that accompanies Hitchcock's shower scene in Psycho and, without the movie visuals, without any context, you will know fear. Hearing is not at-a-distance; it's already in your head.
    Heard out of context, that screeching music makes its own context, flooding your current visuals with, probably undeserved, dread.
    Disembodied visual moods (moody pictures without bodies), on the other hand, get 'heard' or not only if they somehow converge to your own current bodily condition/story. Solve et coagula.
    For me, unlike de-contextualized music, insufficiently contextualized and/or embodied emoting visual attempts often comically, or even quite unpleasantly, miss their mark. Like encountering a flasher in the park opening his raincoat to show me his little treasures.
     
  125. Please allow me to indulge some personal ramblings. These are exploratory and might have to be revised, but one starts where one is in trying to understand such things:
    Dusk does not make me feel melancholy, though others may see or feel sadness when looking at a photo that I have made at dusk. It is typically my happiest time of the day. For one thing the light is special. If I worked the third shift, from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m., dawn might be my special time--and can be when I am not rushing around preparing for work, or dreading it.
    If I have worked hard all day long, on the other hand, I have a sense of freedom from certain routine duties--or at least I am more likely to. There are beautiful dusks almost every day. I miss most of them, in the sense that they are there, and I perhaps do see them with my eyes, but they do not register sufficiently to create a mood, or the emotions that emerge from or with that mood. Most days I am probably so self-involved with the remains of the work day that I do not notice. I also need to be alone to get the full impact of what I am talking about, sort of like hiking portions of a wilderness trail alone, as opposed to having someone with me. Yet, in the little town that I shoot so much, there is no wilderness, and no real solitude. It is such a small town that it is completely dead by 6:30 p.m. on most nights. I do not have to go into the wilderness anymore to get what I am after. There are special moods to be felt when viewing the urban landscape as well.
    The fact is that I cannot summon the moods and emotions that are most conducive to creative work in photography on demand. The moods that I am talking about remind me of getting away to the mountains or desert and "getting away from it all." If any of that is forced or routinized, it somehow fails. I will not bring to my mountain hiking or to my photography anything special, and I will not likely leave with anything special. The same is now true of my urbanscapes, which are really "small town scapes." Charlotte, NC looms just over the horizon, and from one of the campuses where I teach. I can see it. I avoid it. Yet, yet, where I shoot is less and less relevant to me than how I am "feeling" when I shoot.
    Where is awe in all this discussion of emotion? What is awe amongst all these categories of experience? I am sometimes not only in awe of great mountains and great skies in the wilderness, but of a certain kind of awe in the face of great beauty in any context--but especially for me, for some reason, at dusk. I love the transitions from the golden hour to the blue hour. By the time the sky is too deep a blue, dusk is effectively over for me. If the sun is still up, I am in the golden hour, which gives great light, but it is still too light to feel the moods that dusk evokes in me. I can get good photos during the golden hour (or so) before sunset. I love the afternoon light. It does not yet give the same special experiential state that dusk tends to give me--that it gave me on the day that I shot as I crossed town via car in the photos above.
    In other contexts, dusk for me can be expressed musically, as in "Stardust" or "Deep Purple." I have watched the shadow of the earth climb the eastern sky. That is "deep purple." It supplants the lingering reddish hues of sunset and a bit after. By the time the sky gives way to deep blue, twilight or dusk is effectively over for me. I have waited a bit too long. Yes, the stars are more and more visible, but it is when the stars are just coming out that I am out there at dusk.
    I am not sure how idiosyncratic to me the above musings are. Other persons no doubt interpret the closing of the day differently.
    Trying to capture any of that in a photo is quite another thing. I have to feel magic to capture it--or do I? I certainly felt it the day that I captured this full moon rising as the deep purple climbed with it in the eastern sky. Striving for color accuracy gave me the first, not THIS in post. Which of these was closer to what I felt I do not remember, but the first one even now more nearly evokes what I actually felt that evening.
    I have neglected to address the question of memory in all of the above. The one who takes the shot may actually remember feelings from the day and time the shot was made. One who sees the shot out of context may experience emotions evoked by memories of similar scenes. The emotions may have little to do with what we actually saw, and more to do with what we remember in the contexts of our loves. All of this is one reason that the shot may mean something for me the photographer, but something entirely different for a viewer who sees it in the context of his or her own life, feelings, and memories.
    Sometimes I do feel that in trying to evoke an emotion in others through a photograph, we really are shooting the moon. . . .
    --Lannie
     
  126. While I am back on the moon again, let me offer this link to Photo.net's own Judy Hamilton and her glorious shots of the moon at deep dusk in San Diego--in a very definite urban setting. This particular shot is no longer on Photo.net, but it is on her Smugmug page.
    As far as the urban setting she has captured, the moon is both literally and figuratively "above it all." Her page under her name "Hey Jude" has many variations of full moon shots from more or less the same place.
    Is there an emotion to be captured here? Well, the emotion does not inhere in the photograph, and so persons are going to experience different moods and emotions when viewing the same photo.
    --Lannie
     
  127. Lannie (I enjoyed your long post), the world, nowadays is full of landscape atheists. You're going to church; they're just going outdoors.
     
  128. While I am linking to Judy Hamilton, let me offer the link to her variations of her moon shots in San Diego in THIS FOLDER.

    These put my feeble efforts to shame, but I suspect that I feel something of what she felt when she shot so many pictures of the full moon at dusk.
    --Lannie
     
  129. You're going to church; they're just going outdoors.​
    It sure beats sitting in a building on Sunday morning listening to some idiot tell me everything that he thinks that he knows about Ultimate Reality but does not (No one does), and it also beats looking at the nth picture of a sunset.
    Thank you, Julie.
    --Lannie
     
  130. Julie, between this one (since I have been odd man out and can feel his pain), and the "judgment day" series (as exemplified with this one), I FEEL that I am finally beginning to understand your own avian religion. It is wondrous. What must I do to be saved?
    --Lannie
     
  131. Sometimes a photo of the moon evokes no emotion in me. It is clinical, sterile, of some intellectual interest, perhaps, but it has no power over my psyche.
    LINK
    --Lannie
    00diiC-560535684.jpg
     
  132. On the other hand, from afar, at the right time of day, the moon has my heart, maybe my soul.
    --Lannie
    00diiF-560535784.jpg
     
  133. Lannie, in THIS photo of yours which you linked to, elements that help to convey that contrary-to-melancholy feeling you've described are the strong dusk light reflected on the grill of the car at the left and the lighting in the shop windows way down the street on the right. One of the main thrusts of that photo, to me, is the foreground shadow out of which you're shooting, made stronger by your low perspective against the street in the foreground, the strong leading lines of the street which lead to a very understated portion of sky. There's a heaviness and darkness to the shot. Is that how you see/feel awe? Here's where the discussion of narrative comes in. You tell a pretty specific narrative above about work, missing the dusk, etc. To me, some of the qualities of reflected light in your photo, the content of your photo, and the perspective of your photo each have a strength but aren't working together to build a narrative or evoke that emotion you're talking about.
    I worry about words like "magic", "beauty", "awe" as being rather vague and all-encompassing. While I understand their meaning and do think they all have a significant role in photography, I think there are more specific and personal emotion-words for different situations that communicate in a more heartfelt (because more personal) way. So, when you mention your feeling of aloneness (being alone) or your missing the dusk, I suspect when you allow yourself to feel those things fully, you get that feeling of awe, because you're filled with those things you mention. Awe, in and of itself, has more magnitude in a way but is less descriptive as well (which is fine, of course). To me, it's the difference between the well-meaning preacher on a soapbox with a loud megaphone, his whole body shaking as he shouts out quotes from the Bible and the man on the street doing a simple act of kindness for his neighbor.
     
  134. One of the main thrusts of that photo, to me, is the foreground shadow out of which you're shooting, made stronger by your low perspective against the street in the foreground, the strong leading lines of the street which lead to a very understated portion of sky. There's a heaviness and darkness to the shot. Is that how you see/feel awe?
    So, when you mention your feeling of aloneness (being alone) or your missing the dusk, I suspect when you allow yourself to feel those things fully, you get that feeling of awe, because you're filled with those things you mention. Awe, in and of itself, has more magnitude in a way but is less descriptive as well (which is fine, of course)​
    Fred, you may be onto something here. I have wondered about such things and still do not have them figured out. I am also drawn by the threatening darkness of storms, usually thunderstorms, but several were hurricanes (all near misses in my case). There is something here of the distinction between the "beautiful and the sublime," I suppose. Perhaps there is even an element of drama (and even danger) in an impending storm, or perhaps even in the impending night. I'm not sure. I did see an outer spiral band of Camille come ashore in the late afternoon in the panhandle of Florida in 1969, and it was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I see the beauty. I feel the emotion in such events. I also like cloudy, moody days, for what that's worth.
    I wish you guys would post more of your own--with your own analyses of what you felt, or an analysis of what you think compelled you to want to take the shot. There are certainly a lot more emotionally powerful shots on Photo.net than mine, and it would be interesting to see what various photographers felt when they were shooting the picture.
    Fred, I hate to admit it, but I almost never thought much about technique when shooting these shots. In post processing, I am more likely to do so.
    --Lannie
     
  135. To me, some of the qualities of reflected light in your photo, the content of your photo, and the perspective of your photo each have a strength but aren't working together to build a narrative or evoke that emotion you're talking about.​
    That's fair enough, Fred. As the old chief says in Little Big Man, "Sometimes the magic works, and sometimes it doesn't." I tried all my magic tricks: I shot low, got some reflected light, worked hard in post, and still didn't quite come away with much. I think that it might have worked, but ultimately it failed. The brighter, more colorful one worked a bit better in this case, in my opinion.
    --Lannie
     
  136. Lannie, what does thinking about technique when you're shooting these have to do with it? I'm looking at your photos and talking about them in these terms just to get us all to look and think, here and now, while we're sitting here together having a conversation about photos. I do that in hopes that that will somehow influence future shooting (future instinctual shooting). Not so you or I can stand there and think about these things when we're out on the street shooting.
    Lannie, I don't think posting more and more photos here helps me to zero in on the core issues. I would actually find it of much more value to stick with one or two and discuss them from different angles. To me, posting more and more photos is like "awe" and can actually be a distraction and miss the point where discussing one or two at this point would be more like visiting with a neighbor when he's sick.
     
  137. I do that in hopes that that will somehow influence future shooting (future instinctual shooting).​
    I get your point, Fred. The time for analysis is rarely at the time of the shot. In post, maybe. I like to experiment a lot in post. I have learned a bit more about black and white post processing since I took that photo of the street, the one that Jack McRithchie described as "muddy." It didn't impress you, either. Maybe it would work in black and white using layers and adjusting the color sliders. But this is not a thread about post-processing. . . .
    You're probably right about posting pictures. One good one goes a long ways. Two or three mediocre ones just tire people out.
    --Lannie
     
  138. I do wish that others would post more of their own photos, with their own analyses of their motives, feelings, techniques, whatever.
    --Lannie
     
  139. Lannie wrote: "I wish you guys would post more of your own ... " Well, okay, but you'll be sorry. I don't really go for emotion per se.
    .
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    [​IMG]
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    [​IMG]
     
  140. Well, I felt something, Julie, even if you didn't. Maybe it was all those intertwining limbs that got to me.
    --Lannie
     
  141. Thinking a little more about magic, the magician doesn't just rely on magic, he actually learns how to do magic tricks and then makes magic. He learns and practices sleight-of-hand, he makes sure he doesn't really saw the woman in half but learns how to make it look as though he's going to do just that.
    The way I describe it is that there's some correspondence between what a person, event, or scene is making me feel and how that translates into my looking and seeing in the moment and how I feel about what I'm seeing through the lens, framed as it is by the lens. There's sort of two sets of simultaneously evolving feelings, those from the moment and those from framing it. Part of the magic, for me, is not just magically expecting that whatever feelings I have will somehow accrue to the photo I'm taking, but rather comes from feeling two things at once, the experience and the framed experience. That framing is my own activity at the moment and being in touch with that as it relates to what I'm feeling from the scene itself doesn't necessarily demand analysis in that moment as much as just awareness and being in touch. So, there's what you felt after a day's work when you walked out into the dusk and there's what you feel when you look through the camera and frame a scene that greeted you when you walked out into the dusk after a day's work.
     
  142. Some quotes of William Klein, not because I think they're right, but because I think they're valuable and his stated differences with Bresson are instructive even if both are right for their own ways of shooting and wants for photography.
    “How can photography be noncommittal? Cartier-Bresson chooses to photograph this subject instead of that, he blows up another shot of the subject, and he chooses another one for publication. He’s making a statement. He’s making decisions and choices every second. I thought, if you’re doing that, make it show.”
    “In a way its true I had a lot of old scores to settle. I was involved. According to the Henri Cartier-Bresson scriptures, you’re not to intrude or editorialize, but I don’t see how that’s possible or why it should be. I loved and hated New York. Why shut up about it?”
    It seems to me that being opinionated and committed to a point of view will often help imbue a photo with emotion. The more grand, universal, or all-encompassing the viewpoint, the less I'm likely to be moved. The more a photo seems to adopt all perspectives or to come from an omniscient one, the less I am moved. (There are exceptions to this, of course.) The more individual and personal the perspective (not just coming from the photographer but found in the subject or scene as well), the more I tend to have an emotional reaction.
     
  143. By the way, Lannie, do you know much of ATGET'S WORK? He has knack for getting the feel of a place, often without including people.
     
  144. I understand, Fred, and I agree. It's about getting the right angle, framing, exposure, etc. Nothing much has changed there.
    First, of course, one has to see the shot. That's where it can seem like magic. Sometimes one sees it. Sometimes one does not. "The eye" is as close to magic as I know.
    --Lannie
     
  145. By the way, Lannie, do you know much of ATGET'S WORK? He has knack for getting the feel of a place, often without including people.​
    I have seen his work, Fred, but thank for putting so many examples at our disposal in one link. Some of those shots without people in them are sublime, in my opinion.
    --Lannie
     
  146. To Julie's two photos I offer the singular title "Gams". What, together, they evoke for me is the choreography from Busby Berkeley musicals. Delightful movement in a still photo. ;-)
     
  147. They are indeed touchy-feely, dance-ish, circular, roundel, musical things. Really fun to make (and not very hard). Unlike my current project, which is excruciating (takes me at least 3 months to do ONE).
     
  148. Motion will sometimes suffice where emotion is lacking.
    --Lannie
     
  149. See Ernst Hass (you'll have to do your own image search; I'm supposed to be (house)working).
    The critics thump him, so, since I'm sophisticated, I won't admit to liking his stuff ...
     
  150. I wonder if emotion as manifested in expressions on faces can be thought of a kind of change, literally, a type motion where feelings are concerned. Motion, emotion, and motive come from the same Latin root.
    Motives do move us. So do emotions.
    [French émotion, from Old French, from esmovoir, to excite, from Vulgar Latin *exmovēre : Latin ex-, ex- + Latin movēre, to move
    --Lannie
     
  151. Lannie, note the difference between evoking motion/movement and showing it.
     
  152. Fred, even when showing it (as in a facial expression), one can only freeze it.
    When one evokes it, on the other hand, perhaps one moves the viewer. . . with a single, stationary image.
    --Lannie
     
  153. I think Julie has constructed and cranked up a metaphor. I think the blur of your photo (Bird is the word) signifies motion. Each accomplishes something different, IMO. This is not a value judgment about either.
     
  154. I was simply talking about etymology, Fred, but sometimes etymological similarities have some interesting possible implications.
    My dancing figure is showing the same eye blurred but also looking straight at the viewer, as if he were showing at least two different points in time.
    In one of the Haas pictures, the bent knee implies motion more than the locked knee does. The same may be true of the tree trunks in Julie's pictures, trunks which I have deliberately called "limbs."
    --Lannie
     
  155. Lannie, I wasn't questioning or directly responding to your post about etymology. Was just continuing to consider different ways emotion is evoked. In addition to signification (using signs as representations of stuff) and metaphor, there's also symbolism. (LINK)
    Some of this stuff actually requires intellect/intelligence both to understand and to create, something often left out of these discussions of photography and emotion, though a use of intelligence often leads to an emotional result. Can understanding evoke emotion? IMO, yes. I think Man Ray is certainly one example of someone with creative intelligence, among other things.
     
  156. Can understanding evoke emotion?​
    I hope so--and I think so, Fred. Understanding is about meaning, and meaning is what signs are about, after all.
    It is funny how "meaning" comes around in so many ways. Whatever gives meaning gives the kind of emotional experience that is also memorable. That which is memorable can give life meaning, as in a "meaningful relationship." I think that life itself can be considered an ongoing quest for meaning, even a possible struggle at times for meaning.
    I don't look for meaning when I am doing photography, only when I am looking at photographs. Even then, I do not typically ask myself, "What does this photo mean?" although I have asked that from time to time.
    I am sorry for the circularity of my comments above. I am begging all the important questions, but I don't know what is assumption and what is conclusion in this kind of reflection. Nor would I say that I have achieved any kind of "reflective equilibrium" on these varied and inter-related issues.
    --Lannie
     
  157. Lots of beautiful Ernst Haas photos here, so I thought I'd share:
    https://www.google.com/search?q=Ernst+Haas+life+magazine&safe=active&espv=2&biw=1359&bih=890&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7gLL7s9XKAhUB9HIKHWnFAFgQsAQIMg#imgrc=Vd8kyHCiRBpErM%3A
     
  158. [Sorry for misspelling Haas in my previous post. Thank you Lannie for figuring out who I meant.]
    Lannie wrote: "It is funny how "meaning" comes around in so many ways."
    Ahem. See my very first post to this thread: "The photographer's emotion, or that of the subject(s) that are seen in the photo?" In other words, which meaning, or meaning to whom?
    Haas was interested in creating his own meaning. He said/wrote: "Bored with obvious reality, I find my fascination in transforming it into a subjective point of view. Without touching my subject I want to come to the moment when, through pure concentration of seeing, the composed picture becomes 'more made than taken.' Without a descriptive caption to justify its existence, it will speak for itself -- less descriptive, more creative; less informative, more suggestive -- less prose, more poetry."
    The criticisms of Haas hinge on what they see as his purple poetry; they nicknamed him the 'Paganini of Kodachrome.' Sally Eauclaire wrote of Haas: "[His photographs] invariably show an optimistic, dynamic world where blossoming meadows festively flutter in celebration of spring, where cities from Venice to New York vibrate with pattern, and where the Himalayans and other exotic peoples theatrically celebrate utopian lives. In Haas's world, sunstruck tree tops suggest a river of gold; an abalone shell becomes a vista; a crushed can, a Buddha; and an oil stain, the cosmos. ... More bothersome to the majority of new color photographers, however, is Haas's preference for transformation over truth, for drama over restraint, and for what Kozloff has identified as Haas's exploration of 'not the sensation but the sensationalizing of color.' "
    A little history, if you can stand it, will do a lot to explain why Haas has been dropped from the pantheon of 'greatest' color photographers. At the time that Steichen retired from MoMA and Szarkowski took over (1962), there was a planned but not completed exhibition of Haas's work. When it opened there at MoMA, it was considered quite sensational, glorious, even. But Szarkowski, partly because he had a different vision, and partly because he wanted to distinguish himself from Steichen, quickly went a different way (Eggleston). So Haas got to play the part of that which we have learned to do better than.
    If you actually look at Haas's work (I'm, looking at the Haas monograph, Color Correction, put out in 2011 by Steidl) aside from the stuff that is indeed pretty overblown, there is some very good color work that does not fit into such a simple dichotomy. But given the explosion that Eggleston created, Haas has been pretty much lost to history. He doesn't fit in.
     
  159. I haven't looked at enough Haas or Eggleston to debate Szarkowski's curatorial directions. Changes in approaches or aesthetic can be healthy, but I have always been a little skeptical about taste-makers or arbiters of art. Fashion or personal preferences can close as well as open windows. The former (now absorbed elsewhere) Canadian Centre for photography in Ottawa always seemed to me to overly priorize art that was "in" within academic circles while mostly rejecting other forms. Art can exist in many forms or types of expression. Haas's transformation over truth approach seems to be consistent with creation in art where the objectives are not necessarily related to truth and/or documentation. The subject of meaning seems to be at the heart of art, which can be simply described (Cambridge dictionary) "as making of objects, images, music, etc. that are beautiful or that express feelings." Feelings relate to emotions and meaning. Using one's intelligence and personality in attempting to create photos with meaning can be productive and may be equally or more fruitful than simply reacting afterwards to images that we were attracted to spontaneously make and/or that result from a gut feeling. The latter are important of course, but I think they they are not alone in contributing to an intentional or considered approach in creating and expressing emotion or meaning? No doubt that the latter is hard work but it can raise the level of photography.
     
  160. I don't pay any attention to arbiters of art either. Somehow it's just not important to me. I'd rather visit museums and galleries and make up my own mind about what I'm looking at. Having said that, I've mentioned before that there's a lot of big names in photography whose work just leaves me wondering about what they were setting out to do. I find it odd to think that I love getting out and shooting street photography but I really don't care for street photography as a genera. I just don't seem to like much of it. Sure there are some pictures of Winogrands and others I like but taken as a whole much of their work just goes over my head. Maybe I'm just not sophisticated/intelligent enough to understand it. Again, be this as it may, I don't care. I'm too busy trying to make sense out of my own work.
     
  161. I don't pay any attention to arbiters of art either. Somehow it's just not important to me. I'd rather visit museums and galleries and make up my own mind about what I'm looking at.​
    Something to consider is that, just by visiting museums and galleries, you are paying a lot of attention to arbiters of art. Who do you think is choosing what you see . . . and what you don't see . . . in these museums and galleries?
     
  162. Which could lead us back to our emotional responses to photos . . . Just how individual are they? I say we ought to be taking into account community and cultural influences, taste influences, genetic influences, the influence of what's made visible, how the photography is presented, etc. and many other factors that go well beyond ourselves.
     
  163. Well, Fred I see the choices that are made by curators who have economic considerations to make. That is one aspect, I'm sure there are others but museums have to get people to visit and donate so they have to show work by recognizable names. This work has stood the test of time. I was looking at Cubist works by Picasso and Braque this weekend and these works are now 100 years old but they still retain their significance.
    Galleries are a bit different. Works in galleries are chosen based on whether the owner thinks it will sell or not. I recently visited a gallery during LA Art Walk that exhibited the work of a handful of LA street photographers. Out of the 40 or so photographs on display there was one I liked and one other that I thought would have been good if the photographer had gotten closer. The rest of the work I thought lacked content and many were also flawed by over handed post processing which I think some photographers fall back on to make up for the lack of content. However, knowing that work for sale in galleries is supposed to appeal to folks who want a pretty picture to hang in their office or living room I wasn't expecting anything different. These are the kinds of pictures that are popular online and in social media so I wasn't surprised to see them.
     
  164. Fred and Marc, I share your thoughts about the limitations of putting too much faith in arbiters of art or taste, whether they are museum curators, well read professional critiques, or selection committees of art grants or new works for a museum. Some confidence of course, but not complete.
    I also believe that looking too much at photographs previously recognized as valuable in an artistic sense or as photographs can also be constraining to our personal development. The past is like the last photograph we have made. Some of the best ideas can arise when analysing creations in other fields of art, especially paintings and sculpture, but including cinematography, graphic design, theatre and other arts. Inspiration for treatment of subject matter can also come from music, poetry and fiction, where non visual expression can be inspirational and lead to searching an analogy and development in our visual imagery. I find it important to request criticism of friends or acquaintances in the other fields of art and one of my best critics, and catalyzer of inspiration, has been a sculptor friend. Photographer friends often simply refer my work to established photographic approaches or styles, to technique or standard compositional ideas rather than what may be different in the work.
    The common thread is to look for inspiration in unlikely places rather than more often visiting the works of photographers from whom our creativity can sometimes just be adding another brick to the structure he or she had previously created (or evolved from former masters). Doing uncommon things in a common setting is often more productive. Basing too much of our approach on existant photography or the examples and views of curators or taste setters can stifle other opportunities.
    Perhaps the inputs of society, community and cultural influences, taste influences, genetic influences and the other existing and also shared factors can be important, as Fred suggests. When relating all this to the specific objective of presenting and feeling emotions through photography the tendency may sometimes be one of clearly delineating a single emotional element, such as joy or grief. Without a context and environment to the emotion being also treated the result can be too monolithic or singular in effect.
    When I previously referred to the importance of the photographer or the subject expressing a multitude of elements of emotion, as the case for a photo which encapsulated in my mind curiosity, contentment. wonder, happiness, interest, awe, pleasure, arousal (whether clearly shown or merely suggested), I think that the possibilities for increased depth are enhanced, as they are by complementing a subject with sub-subjects in harmony or contrast with the principal subject. This can contribute different layers and the communication of enigma, fantasy or questions, something not unique to images portraying emotion of subject or photographer.
     
  165. I should not have brought up history.
    I think Lannie seems to be like a person going to the eye doctor being lectured on the history of lenses. What he really wants is for the doctor to just stick various lenses in front of his eye and ask him, "Better?; Worse?" His eyes will tell him the answer, at this point.
    Then, after one has a handle on what works for your eyes, then the question of whether or not criticism and history are relevant to that person's particular way of expressing a visual "!!" depends on whether they just want to have visual conversations (do you want someone telling you how to speak?) or whether they're orating to the world (art, politics, advertising).
     
  166. Say what?
    --Lannie
     
  167. Lannie wrote: "Say what?"
    We show you some dance steps. You shake your own booty.
     
  168. At issue finally is what makes for a successful photograph--in terms of my own evaluation of it, and according to my own criteria of "success."
    I do indeed wish to make pictures that others might like, but I don't try to manipulate potential viewers. If a photo evokes something of significance (something meaningful or memorable) in me, then I can only hope that at least a few viewers might see or feel the same thing. I do not make any presumption as to how many persons will like what I shoot. I don't shoot for the eyes of others, but I like to think that at least a few persons may or might appreciate what I am shooting and why I am shooting it.
    History of photography and art criticism? I don't worry about them, except ex post facto, in trying to figure out what has worked in the past. Good insights from any source are always in season.
    I am (in this thread) interested above all in what makes a powerful photo a powerful photo. I do not presume that there is any easy or universal answer to that question--but there might be some useful generalizations that critics or photographers can offer.
    --Lannie
     
  169. We show you some dance steps. You shake your own booty.​
    Julie, if I knew how to take pictures that would shake your booty, I would surely serve them up. Alas, I don't have photographs that are powerful enough to do that.
    --Lannie
     
  170. Lannie, a fellow photo.net photographer, Drew Bayless, has some quite evocative and emotive images. I suggest you have a look at this one.
    http://www.photo.net/photo/18099317
     
  171. Lannie, from your OP and from all you've said and posted here, I get the impression you have no trouble picking out which photos are evocative for you and that you've seen and can point to plenty of them. The question seemed more personal. "How does one do it?" It seems a direct and sincere question.
    Lannie, does vulnerability ever come into play for you when you're photographing, your own or that of your subjects? If so, how?
    I was just watching a fun old Ernst Lubitsch movie, The Smiling Lieutenant. (By the way, if you haven't seen a Lubitsch movie, watch Design For Living as soon as you can.) Anyway, at the beginning of Lieutenant, Maurice Chevalier and his best friend are both interested in Claudette Colbert. His friend approaches her first and is very gentlemanly. Chevalier kind of swoops in and captures her emotions by being flirtatious. How might flirting transfer to taking a picture?
    Flirting may not work for you and photography. But along with all the looking has to go some kind of imagining. Make something up.
     
  172. Flirting may not work for you and photography. But along with all the looking has to go some kind of imagining. Make something up.​
    That sounds interesting alright, Fred. For that matter, capturing any kind of interpersonal interaction sounds interesting. Is it risky? Have you tried it? I can't run as fast as I used to.
    --Lannie
     
  173. Arthur, that's a good one. Here is another by Drew that I like.
    --Lannie
     
  174. Lannie, does vulnerability ever come into play for you when you're photographing, your own or that of your subjects? If so, how?​
    Fred, I keep seeing this word vulnerability used to describe actors style of acting and other creative mediums and I have yet to know exactly what vulnerability looks like especially in a still photo. I know what it means from the standpoint of the fight or flight response on whether a human or animal can defend them self from attack by a predator. But I still don't know what vulnerability has to do with emotions? Is it to draw out sympathy from the viewer?
    And maybe you can explain from an example posed by what I've experienced as feeling sympathy toward another's vulnerability. I have this thing about hands. I call it "sad hands" syndrome where in a movie or just observing people on a bus where someone positions their hands in a way that evokes a sadness. I was thinking someone has got to have photographed hands in a manner that could bring someone to tears. I remember the painting of the old man praying with only a small loaf of bread as his only meal but even that doesn't do it for me. http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/61qzgxode9L._SL1100_.jpg
    And sense you mentioned flirting I have two images I shot observing a father teaching his daughter how to swim and another showing them just hanging out getting some sun where the daughter taunts and teases her rather big and imposing macho cool headed father by fluttering and flicking her hands at him. I thought these two images evoke an emotional response and uses hand gestures where the first one of the swimming lesson shows the father's outstretched hand taking on a protective claw like but caring hold.
    00diyy-560587884.jpg
     
  175. Lannie, does vulnerability ever come into play for you when you're photographing, your own or that of your subjects? If so, how?​
    Fred, I am not sure if I have ever deliberately tried to capture a sense of vulnerability, but emotional vulnerability definitely makes a person more approachable. I can imagine of lot of possibilities that might work in that regard. I probably should try to get more shots that have people in them.
    As for my own vulnerability, I am not sure how it affects my photography, but that is certainly something to think about.
    --Lannie
     
  176. Lannie, I have it from no less than Minor White that:
    1. Nobody else can teach you how to visually convey your own experience in photographs, but;
    2. ... if you are constantly "tormented by the feeling that there is more," then you're at the doorstep of making those very photographs ...
    :)
     
  177. Julie, thanks for the insightful Minor White quote which I find both comforting (torment explained) and slightly hopeful.
    Lannie, here is an image that I think exhibits emotion in the viewer, at least its quiet beauty and look of the flower incited a spontaneous smile.
    http://www.photo.net/photo/18131599
     
  178. These things are so subjective, Arthur. Here is one by Anders that evokes something in me, although I don't think that "emotion" is quite the word:
    http://www.photo.net/photo/6588960

    --Lannie
     
  179. These things are so subjective​
    It's funny, but in the context of this discussion and photography's way of evoking emotions, I tend to think of all the non-subjective aspects of emotions, of which there are plenty.
     
  180. Capturing other's emotions is tricky, because a lot of time its just the viewers projection of what the emotion might be, while other times it can be very real. Example that many of us of a certain age may remember, would be the naked girl in Vietnam during that war (forgot who took it), but that was obviously real if I ever saw "real" in a photo. However generally, the camera recording an instant and the framing etc. can often suggest feelings and relationships that exist only in the photo, but were not really what was happening at all. Stopping motion creates its own world in some ways. And yet us street/docu photographers are often looking to catch that "feeling". This also includes creating a mood, which is maybe more towards the example Landrum started off with and more of a projection of the photographers emotions, or idea of emotions than capturing the emotions of others. Rambling further with this, I think setting mood has a lot of formalistic concerns with light, composition etc., but a mood toned photograph usually uses what the camera captures and then is brought out by processing. Where as Landrum's example is more of conceptual play by an artist using photographic process but trying to create emotional response symbolically, which I find kind of tortuous. Now when someone like Frida Kahlo did it, especially after you discover somethings about her life, its amazingly powerful. But then her symbols strike pretty true and graphical to what she was really experiencing. To contrast that with the "De-Selfing" series it seems that Wang's photos "work" in that they function to show what the artist tended to show, are skillfully shot, but to me, totally fail to evoke any feeling in me. They look like some one drew up photographic diagram's showing ways to represent "break-up" and distraughtness from it, but to me don't really do it. It's probably my issue, as I never really was moved by modern dance interpretations of the same type of thing, it just looks too contrived. Sort of like watching student design contest, "your task is to give me 20 photos representing emotion". But they are pretty good photos so I will look at them a few more times as some of them are pretty good, but I just wish they hadn't described what they were trying to depict. < taking a virtual breath>. So here's a couple of photos depicting mood, and one capturing or showing emotion...I guess :) [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  181. Julie, I think those photos are really cool, my response is a crowd of sticks but they seem human and, especially the second one, well, you know how people express attitudes from posture, they both have that quality. Your branches have tudes!
     
  182. Last, one more I think shows a sense of alienation though when I took it I wasn't feeling that way at all, but I knew the photo might embody that and I was quite happy to take it.[​IMG]
     
  183. It's funny, but in the context of this discussion and photography's way of evoking emotions, I tend to think of all the non-subjective aspects of emotions, of which there are plenty.​
    Not only that, Fred, but we have been trying to figure out what it is that evokes emotions--some kind of objective way of getting at what makes for a strong photo, or even some objective way to find out how to make strong and powerful photos.
    I saw the contradiction as I wrote those remarks to Arthur, but what I really meant in my response to him was nothing more than, "People are moved by different things."
    --Lannie
     
  184. Lannie* (and I) need (not want) to have our subjective emotions be made objective. Need, not want. This is urgent, necessary, and perpetual in one's life. As it is also for you and you and you, reading this. Without some kind of alignment of emotional understanding, there is no communication at all. Which is not to say that it is always, or often perfectly achieved. It's not. But it remains the only way we gear into each other.
    [*here I go again, taking liberties with Lannie's persona ... I like Lannie's persona ]
     
  185. Barry, your last picture is really good, and it's interesting in juxtaposition to the one right above it with the beach. Just noticing how the sort of putty-like texture of the beach affects mood one way, while the clear, strong textures of the last one goes the other way.
    Tim's upper picture is, to me, kind of interesting because of the fact that more than half of the top of the frame is filled with wild leaves. In b&w I'd think those could be made even more effective. (Tim will be scratching his head ... )
    You can tell that I'm too lazy to click on any links ...
     
  186. I love all those photos, Barry.
    All that I know for sure is that, although we bring ourselves and our emotional states to the making of a photo, the resulting photo almost invariably has to stand on its own, sometimes totally out of context, and whatever emotion it might evoke in the viewer can be quite independent of what we felt (if anything) when we took it.
    Single photos represent a moment frozen in time. If printed, they are two-dimensional representations entirely out of the flow of space-time. The amazing this is that they have any power whatsoever to evoke emotions. If we have two photos made sequentially, then we have more context, and we are back to what I can only call "delta t," a change in the value of t. Make it a movie clip, and the flow of time is even more evident. Context begins to expand and to confer (??) meaning.
    Had I seen the little girl running naked from the napalm bombing in Vietnam totally out of context, I think that I would have understood that something was dreadfully wrong--but that is about it. Knowing that it was a shot from the Vietnam War, however, gave it much more power--in this case including even political power, the power to turn more and more people in the direction of wanting to withdraw from Vietnam militarily. Knowing that she was naked because the napalm had literally burned the clothing off her back made it more powerful still, in all kinds of ways.
    The thing about photos is that we often do know the context, or else someone tells us the context, and suddenly we find the photo back in the flow of space-time, in the context of real events, events that continue to unfold. Without some kind of context, though, I don't know what we have: "images of an instant," snapshots that mean nothing to anyone at all, not even to ourselves as we take them. Other times we infer the context falsely upon viewing, missing it entirely, but yet responding to our viewing of what we think we saw. Our emotional response will be to the fiction, not anything approximating the actual reality of that moment.
    "Whose reality?" one might ask, by which I am referring to persons' emotional reality or realities, since five people viewing the same photo might have five different emotional reactions, in the same way that five victims to a crime will give five different accounts of what happened. I should not quite say "in the same way," but perhaps "analogous to." After all, "What actually happened [at the scene of the crime]?" is a very different question from "What did you feel when you saw the photo?"
    Sometimes I think that it is quite ridiculous how much emotion we try to imbue "into" this or that two-dimensional representation. The truly amazing thing, though, is not that we sometimes (or often) don't capture the emotional power of a situation. The amazing thing is how often we actually do manage to capture and communicate something of what we feel of felt to others, who might indeed feel at least some of the same things that we feel.
    "Everything in context." That is one of my favorite mantras. Indeed, "Everything in context." The more something is out of context, the more it is open to subjective interpretation. Context provides the possibility of giving it some "objective" representation of reality, and, believe me, I do know how perilous the word "objective" can be.
    This directs me back to Fred's last comment, a comment also making some allusion to objectivity. Maybe the question at the outset of the thread should have made some reference to "objectivity," but then the moderators would have buried it in the Philosophy of Photography forum for sure. I didn't want this to get buried in that forum, but the philosophical implications of the original question were obvious from the beginning. Nonetheless, I wanted opinions from those who would never go near that forum, for whatever reason. I love that forum, but it drains me. One does not casually tread there.
    --Lannie
     
  187. How did I know that Julie would jump in before I could? (I know you, Julie, or at least I think I do, though I have never met you.)
    Barry, your photos and comments are too rich to let us let them go by unremarked.
    Back to Julie:
    Without some kind of alignment of emotional understanding, there is no communication at all. Which is not to say that it is always, or often perfectly achieved. It's not. But it remains the only way we gear into each other.​
    All of this is a reminder that sharing photos is about COMMUNICATION--or, all too often, a "failure of communication." I am reminded of the line from Cool Hand Luke: "What we have here is a failure to communicate." I feel one thing when I shoot the picture, or perhaps I feel little or nothing. Someone else viewing it feels something entirely different--or nothing at all. I might as well have not posted the picture in that person's universe. No connection happened.
    The more that we can include contextual hints in the photo, the more likely we are to be able to communicate. Alas, that does not often happen quite like we want. (Welcome to the human condition.)
    Does objectivity matter in art? Oops, that would have to be another forum thread.
    Does communication matter in art? Oops, there's another potential thread.
    --Lannie
     
  188. There is emotion, and then there is emotion. So, before you click on the link, prepare to emote:
    --Lannie
     
  189. DEFINITION
    pho·tog·ra·phy (fə-tŏg′rə-fē)

    A manifestation or practice of the desire to communicate.
    Dare I add, "desire to communicate emotion"?
    What are we as human beings if we have no desire to communicate, especially where emotions are concerned? Are we even "human" at all?
    Julie expressed it as a "need (not want) to have our subjective emotions be made objective." Brava, Julie!
    --Lannie
     
  190. Single photos represent a moment frozen in time. If printed, they are two-dimensional representations entirely out of the flow of space-time.​
    I disagree with all of this, Lannie. For me, only one small aspect of photos is that they can be seen as a moment frozen in time and that's rarely how I approach them or think of them. I generally think of them as stories, as scenes, as expressions and as encompassing much more than a moment or being something frozen. They are likely to be as fluid as they are frozen, and they are alive. They may be two dimensional but, if they are in part representations they are simultaneously other than representations they're not out of the flow of space or time. They're right in there.
     
  191. A story told by Sally Mann:
    ... From the moment I passed into Mississippi, my time became ecstatic. It is a fact for me that certain moments in the creative process, moments when I am really seeing, become somehow attenuated, weirdly expansive. A radiance coalesces about the landscape, rich in possibility, supercharged with something electric. Time slows down. Time becomes ecstatic.
    I once read an account by Hollis Frampton about a man named Breedlove, who broke the world land speed record on the Bonneville Salt Flats. Near the end of his second run, at 620 miles per hour, his car spun out of control, severing telephone poles, flying through the air, and crashing in a salt pond.
    Breedlove was unhurt. When asked by a reporter to remark on the incident, he spoke into the microphone for an astonishing hour and thirty-five minutes, during which time he described in a sequential and deliberate way what occurred in a period of 8.7 seconds. In this monologue, Breedlove expressed concern that he would bore his listeners and said he would do his polite best to make a much longer story short. As Frampton points out, this “ecstatic utterance” represents a temporal expansion in the ration of 655 to one.​
    655 to one. We have our work cut out for us.
     
  192. Sí, soy yo, Julie.
    Here's another question: Do the photos below (aka "the video") help to provide the context for FEELING the full impact of the music?
    Could it be the reverse?
    --Lannie
     
  193. I disagree with all of this, Lannie. For me, only one small aspect of photos is that they can be seen as a moment frozen in time and that's rarely how I approach them or think of them.​
    In context, yes, Fred. But, out of context, what are they? Even to define a printed artifact is a photo is to demonstrate that we already have some sense of context.
    Some bushman in the Kalahari who had never seen seen a photo would see. . . what?
    --Lannie
     
  194. Some bushman in the Kalahari who had never seen seen a photo would see. . . what?​
    I have no idea, but I very much doubt it would be a moment frozen in time. What would he see when he sees a painting? What do I see when I see a painting. Not a moment frozen in time. And when I look at photos, I see something somewhat different than a painting but something that has a lot in common with a painting as well, the non-moment in time stuff.
    But, out of context, what are they?​
    They're never out of context, nor is anything else.
     
  195. Julie posted above:
    [the many personas of Lannie]
    Ah, I was still morphing toward this, my first selfie through my phone (shooting unintentionally backward). I think that I should have gotten my eyebrows even closer to that wide-angle lens.
    Out of context: Someone on the way to being quite mad
    In context: Someone already there?!
    Fred, we shall now have to define and discuss "context."
    --Lannie
    00dj3g-560599684.jpg
     
  196. Fred, I meant outside of the original [cultural?] context, like the Coke bottle in the movie (The Gods Must Be Crazy).
    --Lannie
     
  197. In addition, Fred, there is the simple fact that a photo represents a point (almost) in time.
    I would submit to you that, without a "delta t" (ΔT, the difference [or change] between two points in time), there might not really be any time at all. Perhaps we need at least two points in time in order to be aware of time.
    --Lannie
     
  198. Fred, there is the simple fact that a photo represents a point (almost) in time.​
    Lannie, it's OK for us to disagree on this. Your calling it a fact and then going one step further and calling it a simple fact doesn't really persuade me to see photos that way. I just don't. If you want to, you are welcome to go ahead and do so. You would be in good company.
     
  199. My point, Fred, is that an artifact from an unknown culture is going to be interpreted differently by members of another, different culture. No real communication has occurred. Had the Kalahari bushman known the story of how the Coke bottle was used as a vessel to contain a liquid, his response to it would have been quite different from what it was (in the movie).
    Every artifact or message has a context out of which it is created, and another context (which may be quite different) in which it is interpreted. Persons locate photos (when viewing them) in their own context, personal and otherwise. Persons creating photos have their own contexts. Is there any surprise that there is a miscommunication?
    There are a lot of hidden issues on this, I know. I'm not trying to be glib.
    --Lannie
     
  200. As far as the movement of time, that is another issue, one that you have already addressed quite well. Photos can convey a lot of things that are not limited to the point in time that the photo was made. There is a tie in here to the problem of context, but I won't try to explore that here.
    --Lannie
     
  201. Lannie, am I going to have to make you look at Duchamp's urinal until you cry uncle?
    [love the selfie; obviously the eyebrows are stupendous, but the wrinkles are clearly a coded message dependent on their context]
     
  202. Julie, perhaps we need to have une pissotière en porcelaine installed at your place, replacing your existing convenience. It could change your whole worldview.
    I have an image in my head at this moment. . . . It will almost certainly never be realized in a photo.
    --Lannie
     
  203. Just don't throw it out of an airplane. I'm pretty sure my insurance policy has an exception for pissotière en porcelain thrown from airplanes. They have exceptions for everything else.
     
  204. I wonder how well The Gods Must Be Crazy would have been received if that, and not a Coke bottle, had fallen from a plane. My guess is that there are cultures where they would worship that sucker until the end of time. Fine porcelain can do that to people. Just look at the money that goes into bathroom remodeling at a typical McMansion.
    There's art, and then there's art.
    --Lannie
     
  205. As Lannie mentioned, the emotional impact of a photograph has a lot to do with whatever knowledge of the content we bring to it. This we all know. The Napalm Girl picture by Nick Ut resonates strongly with Lannie because of the backstory behind it. The photo itself doesn't tell the viewer that the girls clothing was burned off. If I recall correctly in an interview even Ut himself described the picture as him simply being in the right place at the right time. So much of photojournalism and street photography is dependent on chance and serendipity.
     
  206. Context in which it was made and context in which the thing that gets produced was used (for) ...
    ... have different kinds of relevance depending on if you are a journalist, or an artist, or Ernst Haas, or a bathroom fixture maker.
     
  207. I was thinking more about this thread just now while in the shower and decided to post a picture of my own. The picture below is a selfie I took in my darkroom years ago. I don't know what brought this on, but it's evolved into a body of work and it's basically a ritual for me to take one every time I go in to print. Now, all of my friends and co-workers are unanimously together in describing these photographs as "awful" "horrible" "freaky" and "scary." These are how they respond to them emotionally. So then, where do these emotions come from? Is it from a narrow view on their part of what a photograph should look like? It's a selfie remember, and selfies have become part of the cultural fabric. They have a source from narcissism so what you see on social media are selfies that some thought went into to make the photographer look good. Mine are the opposite so does that account for their disgust in them? How much are people reacting to how they know I look and their history with me as they view these pictures through that prisim? And does it really matter?
    00dj5W-560601984.jpg
     
  208. My point, Fred, is that an artifact from an unknown culture is going to be interpreted differently by members of another, different culture.​
    Right. Agreed. They never don't have a context. They may have different contexts.

    Which would seem to suggest that photos being a representation of a moment (or point) in time is simply one very limited context in which to view photos. That's all I'm saying. It's a small part of the story. It's a take on a photo that simply looks at them from one particular context, even among us humans.

    Someone from Mars doesn't know that so-called two-dimensional image came from a camera whose shutter snapped at some previous 1/30 of a second. So they're not seeing it as a representation of that moment in time. I know how the photo was made, so that 1/30 of a second is kind of baked in but there's a much wider context for me of what the photo is. Partly, I know it's not a representation at all. Just like the Martian who might simply take it as a real object there in front of him which may make him feel a certain way only because of the shapes and colors he sees and how those affect his nervous system. He would have no reasons whatsoever to tie it to some other moment that occurred at some other time. His "literal" understanding of it may be nothing like ours. There's a level on which we all see photos non-literally or semi-literally as well, non-represenatationally, and that's part of my context when I view photos. Like I said, think of all the similarities between paintings and photos (the aspects of artifice, of storytelling, of—dare I say it—beauty, of abstraction, of composition). All of those things that photos share with paintings have nothing to do with a moment in time. When I hear that a photo is a representation of a moment in time (or a point in time), the entire spatial world, the world of composition, of relationships of light and shadow, black and white and gray, emotion, are all left out.
     
  209. Emotion is overrated. The paradox and difficulty of all great art is how to overcome emotion, not sustain it. How to refrain and how to retract. To communicate emotionally is knowing how to rationalize one's emotions.
     
  210. They never don't have a context. They may have different contexts. --Fred G.​
    Fred, the phrase I used was embedded in this exchange;
    I disagree with all of this, Lannie. For me, only one small aspect of photos is that they can be seen as a moment frozen in time and that's rarely how I approach them or think of them. --Fred G.
    In context, yes, Fred. But, out of context, what are they? Even to define a printed artifact is a photo is to demonstrate that we already have some sense of context. --Lannie Kelly​
    Fred, I am not sure where we are disagreeing. It is true that I said, "But, out of context, what are they?" Saying that does not mean that I am making some claim that art or anything exists "out of context," simply that things can be and are typically misinterpreted when TAKEN OUT OF CONTEXT. Indeed, to say to someone, "You are quoting me out of context" is not to deny that something exists (or does not exist) in some context, but that someone has tried to understand it apart from that particular context.
    I may be misunderstanding your point here, but I doubt that either of us is trying to debate the ontological status of contexts. As far as I can tell, "context" is something that does not belong to some object or artifact outside of some perception of it, some attempt, that is, to understand it or interpret that perception. (I could be wrong about that, but I see no other way to say it.) If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it or see it, it has no particular context if no one knows about it. (That is not the original point of that saying, I know. George Lord Berkeley is not on trial here.)
    To quote Billy Bob Clinton out of context, "It depends on what the meaning of 'is' is." Clinton was parsing words, of course. You and are trying to clarify our positions, a very different thing.
    --Lannie
     
  211. Lannie, I'm saying we COMPLETELY AGREE on the matter of context and I agree it's relatively unimportant to this discussion and should be dropped immediately.
    My main point was to say that I don't think photos are representations of a moment in time. I think that's a much more important consideration and eventually probably does have a lot to do with emotion, emotional responses to photos, and a photographer's imbuing photos with it.
     
  212. Phil, how do you 'rate' an emotion?
    I think we've already addressed the "rationalize" thing under the name of "objective."
     
  213. My main point was to say that I don't think photos are representations of a moment in time. --Fred G.​
    Fred, I guess that I meant only that still photos do not show two or more points in time. Does each separate frame show a point in time? In some trivial sense, that is perhaps true, maybe even obviously true, but it is not very interesting, is it? Again, I may be missing your point.
    --Lannie
     
  214. Single photos represent a moment frozen in time. If printed, they are two-dimensional representations entirely out of the flow of space-time. The amazing this is that they have any power whatsoever to evoke emotions.​
    You seemed to tie your claim that a photo represents a moment frozen in time to your amazement that they have any power at all to evoke emotions. I'm suggesting that when you see photos (which I obviously know you can and do) as something other than or more than a representation of a moment frozen in time, your amazement may disappear some. I'm not even sure why a moment frozen in time evoking emotions would be so amazing. What it all tells me is that it's NOT just meaning that is the key. Your example of movies suggests why a movie or a series of stills would have more meaning (and I'd say more literal and narrative meaning) than stills. But, it may be the lack of more literal and narrative meaning in still photos that is a key to their emotive potential.

    I think tying photos too much to their original moment can be problematic, especially in some cases. When it comes to documentary and journalism and a even portraits and still lifes to some extent, of course a tie to the original moment will be significant. But departing from that original moment and its meaning can also be significant. So, even while you're in the moment, you can be sort of in a state of potential, in a looking ahead mode even without thinking about it too much or at all. It's often the transformation of the moment and not the representation of the moment that's the more significant aspect of making photos, IMO.

    You read my description of how Stuart and I worked together to create that photo with the shadow. If I were to represent that moment, I'd want to show that we are working at it, somehow communicate that we moved around to get the right angle, etc., since that's what the moment actually was. But, judging from my own take on it and viewer reactions to it, what that photo is is a transformation, and not a representation, of that moment. A representation is kind of a substitute for the original thing seen. To me, that's not what a photo is or at least not all it can be. It's very much a new reality and won't always be tethered to the reality of the moment of its taking.

    When you call it a representation, then I can tell you you're wrong about the photo, which I would never want to do. You might say, this shows the mysterious side of Stuart. Well, if it's a representation of the moment I'd have to say, no, it's not that at all, it's my finding a position where the light falls on Stuart evocatively and Stuart getting into a position where he casts an effective shadow. How dull. I prefer the transformative take. The representation angle is a bit too clinical for me.
     
  215. Phil, how do you 'rate' an emotion?​
    A 'rating' suggests a negative and a positive. It's the negative and the positive ( of emotion ) that's being overrated.
     
  216. Mental, Emotional, Perceptual - all parts of awareness, all important.
     
  217. Lannie (if I may), thanks for finding the photograph of Nick Ut from the Vietnam war.
     
  218. Lannie, the words "photos do not show two or more points in time" or more particularly the word "moment" have no meaning if you can't get your bearings in location and/or time.
    Even in a time-stamped photo of Mars, or from a precisely time-stamped record from a particle cloud chamber, or the insides of some anonymous patient's intestines that will include a date/time; in the resulting image, "moment" or "point in time" has no meaning other than internally to itself, if/because you can't get your bearings reference that picture.
    Think about all that "get your bearings" entails -- before "moment" or "point in time" has any meaning. "Moment" is a consequence of those bearings.
    [Also relevant is Bergson's bit about: if you take a slice, maybe 1/8 second out of a song, the bit of sound that you get is meaningless; but I'm too lazy to look it up, you'll be happy to know. And I realize that your "point in time" does not claim meaning, it just claims point-ness, which the music analogy does not defeat (though my argument above does, I think).]
    ******************
    Back on topic ... the same wind bends all the trees; each tree bends differently. How to show the wind and not just a bunch of bent trees; and/or how to show the wind-bend of just the third tree on the left ... Include a wind-gauge in the picture? I think not.
     
  219. Julie, of course there can be elements in a photo that bespeak motion, and there can be (and is) in our minds something (some things) that allow us to infer motion based on some context.
    I concede that and all points made related to it, but I think that you and Fred are rebutting a position that I have not taken. I have said that "Context is everything," and it is one of my favorite quotes to my students in various classes, but never more so than in my Spanish classes (not my doctoral field, but something I like to do for fun now and again). Of course, in Spanish class, I say, "Contexto es todo," and what I mean is that MEANING depends entirely on context. What is true for words and sentences is likewise true for photos and everything else that involves inferences that relate to some kind of "meaning" or "significance," and only things of significance have the power to evoke emotion.
    So, it is not that you and Fred are wrong. It is that I entirely agree with you. To say that a photo nonetheless records a "point in time" may be uninteresting, but it is not thereby false. As I said above, it is probably true but true in some uninteresting sense. Perhaps some inference was made by you guys as to where I was going with that. Actually, I was about to examine the psychology of perception, but I don't know enough about it to take it very far, and so I dropped a line of exploratory argumentation that I never really got going with. I may come back to it if I have any further insights on it, but right now I am not pulling up any new theoretical insights or even suggestions of insights. Certainly two sequential stills can give the obvious feeling of motion, as can "smeared" images that show a stationary background with a moving subject. We learned a long time ago that something moving can appear as a "smear" or portion that is out of focus. We learned, probably at an early age, that a photo like that, with part of it in focus and part of it out of focus, gives information about motion: we have captured motion in one still.
    I don't know where to take that except to drop it. We all know it. It is true, but it is obvious--and yet it is one more tool in the arsenal of photographers. Sometimes we follow the moving object, keeping it in focus, letting the blurred background give the message of "motion"--another closely related tool or technique of photographers which we all learned a long time ago.
    I am not totally uninterested in such considerations of technique, but I do think that Fred has been on to something much more interesting, and that something has to do with what I referred to earlier as "what we bring to the photo." What we bring is some possible sense of a larger context, etc. The story starts with what we bring to the photo. It does not end there, of course.
    I would be interested in further considerations of how you or Fred use this or that technique to evoke motion, emotion, and meaning/significance. As I pointed out of your grove of saplings, Julie, the bends in the trees remind me of bent knees, and bent knees remind me of (or suggest) motion once I have seen the trees as human limbs--or perhaps it is the bends that make me infer human limbs.
    "Locked knees don't move." True but trivial, I suppose. You and Fred are getting into some much more interesting terrain than that by going beyond such trivial observations, but perhaps you will need to "spell it out' for some of us so that we will know how to use it in our own work. At the moment, I feel as if you are "preaching to the choir." My own "context is everything" expressed the fullness of my own understanding of the issues at stake a long way back up the thread. I am out of fresh insights. Enlighten me--and I don't mean that in a sarcastic sense. I really mean it. If you can, show me what you mean by reference to your own pictures.
    This has been a fascinating thread, and I appreciate the insights of you and Fred and others in making it so.
    --Lannie
     
  220. There's motion, and then there's motion. The same is true of emotion. I feel a lot of emotion when I see the pictures and hear the music. I posted this before, but here it is again:
    [LINK]

    There's power here both in the photos and in the music. There is also that residual power of memories of those who were there, or who remember the summer of 1969 (or some similar or analogous era in their own lives). I was not there but I was about to transition out of my world of chemistry, math, and physics into the world of social sciences and philosophy. Change was in the air. Change was in my life. My reaction to it is thus very personal. Others may see "dirty hippies making a lot of noise."
    The video has tremendous power (although not everyone likes it), and its power comes from lots of photos strung together, the music, memories--everything that provides the larger context, and CONTEXT IS SO DAMNED PERSONAL. If that one did not do it for you, how about this one?
    [LINK]
    I am not posting them to prove anything. I am posting them because I like them--and I am sitting here trying to figure out why I like them so much while others can have such a vehement reaction against them.
    Context is everything. Context is VAST.
    --Lannie
     
  221. Lannie, even though those clips are fantastic ...
    ... I'm going to be a big old wet blanket and say that those videos just prove the difficulty of the issue of this thread: we're doing STILL, SILENT photography here. We precisely can't use the means of those videos.
     
  222. ... or, if I think I've got lemons, to make some lemonade ...
    Video and music pass.
    Still pictures hurt and hurt again. Stills stay.
     
  223. But, out of context, what are they?​
    Lannie, I misunderstood this when you said it and responded that nothing can be out of context. I thought you were posing some sort of ideal situation or omniscient perspective where something like a photo could be seen out of context. Since many on PN argue that a photo should "stand alone" as if it could have no context, I was making sure to argue against that stance. As soon as you clarified it to mean that photos could stand in various contexts and be out of the original context, I realized I misread you and moved on. Nothing you've said about contexts would I rebut and I'm not attributing to you anything else. You and I are ONE on the subject of context and have been since that post.

    Much of the reason you like the videos and others hate them is political. Photos are often political, even when not overtly so. That can cause emotional reactions and differences.

    EXAMPLE. One PN member had a negative reaction to this photo (which is now in a hidden folder since over the years I just got bored of it) because, as he put it, "there is a part of me that is deeply revolted by this image. And, this has--and here, you can question my sincerity--very little to do with the sexual orientation of the couple. There is, if you want a heterosexual equivalent to it, a Henry Milleresque or Fyodor Karamazov essence to this image, of the old lecher preying on the young and vulnerable that should be unsettling to any decent person. even if this was a man and woman, given the almost 30 or even 40 year difference in age, one would be inclined to believe that this man must have been in his 40s when he started courting the man in the foreground, who must have then been in his preteens."

    His reaction certainly has nothing to do with me, with the actual people who are in the photo (who had just met that day), or with what I thought was being portrayed. But it stopped me in my tracks, not because I agreed with him but because I knew he meant it and I believed him.
     
  224. Julie, I included the videos in part because they give so many contextual points of reference. They do not prove anything, but the virtual immersion in context does provide a certain power to evoke emotions.
    On a practical level, can we learn anything about still photography from watching videos? That is a question that comes to me right now as I writing. I am not sure what the answer might be in every case, but if I watch Carlos Santana or Jimmy Hendrix in a video, it brings back memories and the corresponding emotions--for me. It might not for others. Can stills ever do that? I think maybe sometimes they can. Will the videos help my photography in the future. Hm. . .
    At the very least, in this case the videos can give us a larger context for understanding stills from that event (Woodstock) and that era: the Sixties, the counter-culture, the anti-war movement, etc.
    Feelings ran high during era about so many things. The two videos together touch on many of the "hot button" issues of the late sixties. They are almost a form of total immersion for me where memories and emotions of that era are concerned.
    --Lannie
     
  225. Lannie wrote: "can we learn anything still photography from watching videos?"
    Mmmmm ... thinking about it. If I imagine shooting the scene, maybe.
    What emotional photos do to me is invade my space; they stand too close. They are a little bit rude.
    I may love it or I may hate it, but unlike other kinds of photos, the effective emotional ones are unavoidably (have been made to be unavoidably) in my personal space.
    [Edited to add: Fred, I like that picture. Good example. Thanks.]
     
  226. The quintessence of a photograph is that it 'captures' that which is no longer and which has already passed from the moment it is taken, something which can never again be.

    Music can work symbiotically with the still image. LINK to a slideshow I made. The feeling and mood evoked comes as much from the stills as it comes from the music, or at least, the music is what the stills could sound like it they weren't silent.
    “When we define the Photograph as a motionless image, this does not mean only that the figures it represents do not move; it means that they do not emerge, do not leave: they are anesthetized and fastened down, like butterflies.”

    - Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida​
     
  227. I've been heavily influenced by my love for and familiarity with movies. It's one reason I love the storytelling aspect of photos and am often trying to expand that aspect in my work. Because non-documentary movies are often staged and utilize actors, I'm moved by how theatricality translates into authenticity and can capture very real emotions and truths. That's influenced my work as well. Because cinematographers are often on the move, their sense of composition has a kind of built-in past/future to it. They're always coming from somewhere and going to somewhere, moving into a room or out of a window, getting closer or moving further away. I think that can have an influence on still shooting, a sense not that you are still but that you are moving from and to. If you feel the "stillness" then the contrast with a movie can be profound as well.
     
  228. One PN member had a negative reaction to this photo (which is now in a hidden folder since over the years I just got bored of it) because, as he put it, "there is a part of me that is deeply revolted by this image. . . ."​
    Fred, as you and I both know, sometimes persons don't know their own motives--or the reason(s) for their own emotional responses or reactions.
    "Reaction" was the appropriate word in this case.
    --Lannie
     
  229. Philip, I cannot get sound where I am right now, but those photos are extraordinary!
    --Lannie
     
  230. View them with the music on when you get the chance. That's how they were meant to be seen in, when viewed in such a more linear format like the slideshow. The syntax of photography - to create a meaning through seemingly disconnected parts - mostly doesn't get its full potential from linearity but is more a case of images bouncing off of each other in confirmation and / or negation.
    Instead of thinking of it as capturing an emotion, I'd rather think of it as emoting what one has captured. That's more doable in terms of photography. How to give - and how to be unable not to give - structure and meaning to something ( the external world ) that's intrinsically meaningless and without structure.
    The series linked to in the OP show the concept of heartbreak, not its aftermath. While effective too, like this one which has a David Cronenberg body horror to it in the way that the one seems to be consuming the other, Fukase's The Solitude of Ravens feels more true as a photographic example of heartbreak, especially when viewed in retrospect. That's not because he photographed or illustrated the concept of heartbreak but because the sense of heartbreak was with him when he was out photographing all the things that didn't necessarily had anyhting to do with heartbreak at all.
     
  231. Outstanding Phil, and the music really tones the images. Must also agree with you with regards to "Solitude of Ravens". That set of photos would seem to go very well with the kind of music in your set, contemplative and moody and I think you much more elegantly expressed somewhat of what I was trying to say about the project the OP linked to. Thanks for that.
     
  232. Thanks, Phil. The music does create an interesting experience.
    --Lannie
     
  233. Fukase's The Solitude of Ravens feels more true as a photographic example of heartbreak, especially when viewed in retrospect. That's not because he photographed or illustrated the concept of heartbreak but because the sense of heartbreak was with him when he was out photographing all the things that didn't necessarily had anything to do with heartbreak at all.​
    I have often wondered to what extent my own emotional state when taking the picture really does come through in the picture. I am not totally convinced that my feelings at the time of the shoot are the most important thing about evoking a similar feeling in the viewer.
    That is, of course, a separate issue. I do love the pictures that you have given us, and the effect that you have given us with the music together with the images.
    --Lannie
     
  234. Lannie, its not always just the feeling at the time of taking the photo, but I always considered the production of the photo to be part of the process of creating the overall photograph.
     
  235. 25 pages -- wow! Hasn't the "chewing gum lost it's flavour" yet?
     
  236. Sandy, obviously not. That OK with you?
     
  237. Picking up on what Barry said, making the photo often does help produce the emotion. It can be kind of a back and forth thing.
     
  238. Fred G., not pejorative, I just haven't the fire in the belly for it anymore. Bit of a chuckle, self directed as well. Cheers!
     
  239. Steve Gubin said in another thread that my photos sometimes show a kind of sadness and loneliness, but I can't ever remember feeling depressed or sad at the moment of taking the picture.
    --Lannie
     
  240. Not disagreeing with the above, but they're not in the photo. I'm more interested in what's in the box.
    [​IMG]
    I also think that that frame per se is a big part of the challenge to what we're discussing; it needs to be foregrounded. Emotions are everywhere all the time, but they flit. A lot of the work we're considering seems to me to be like bird feeders; it offers an attractive perch, but I'm looking at bird seed and only occasionally, and momentarily, at a bird.
     
  241. Steve Gubin said in another thread that my photos sometimes show a kind of sadness and loneliness, but I can't ever remember feeling depressed or sad at the moment of taking the picture.​
    I don't think photography works like that. What I feel or might have felt at the moment of taking a picture seems much less relevant - if it's relevant at all - and much less interesting than the feeling of the motif that is formed and recognized throughout the photos ( by both photographer and viewer ). The type of photography that I mostly do is one of responding to whatever is out there and comes into view when I'm photographing. If anything, it requires a pushing back of emotion ( to the level of the subconscious ) in order to be more receptive.
    This is different but can overlap with when we remember the feeling we had at the moment when a photograph was taken, a moment that's more personally relevant than other moments. Similar to how a song or piece of music can have a deeply personal connotation of the feeling we had when first hearing the song or when it belonged to the 'background' of our life at a certain time. Even in happiness, there's a sadness - a longing - in the memory of it, something that no longer is. The photograph being proof of what is gone, not what once was.
     
  242. The type of photography that I mostly do is one of responding to whatever is out there and comes into view when I'm photographing. If anything, it requires a pushing back of emotion ( to the level of the subconscious ) in order to be more receptive.
    Even in happiness, there's a sadness - a longing - in the memory of it, something that no longer is. The photograph being proof of what is gone, not what once was.​
    Phil, thanks for clarifying. That makes a lot more sense, but I am still trying to reconcile it with your post (to which I was responding):
    Fukase's The Solitude of Ravens feels more true as a photographic example of heartbreak, especially when viewed in retrospect. That's not because he photographed or illustrated the concept of heartbreak but because the sense of heartbreak was with him when he was out photographing all the things that didn't necessarily ha[ve] anything to do with heartbreak at all.​
    That last sentence in particular is still puzzling to me, especially "the sense of heartbreak was with him."
    It is interesting that in these last exchanges we are analyzing the state of mind (emotional state?) of the photographer rather than the emotion that is either (1) evoked in the viewer or (2) is visible as facial expressions of the subject(s). So we have talked about viewer's emotions and the subject's emotions, and now we are suddenly talking about the photographer and his or her emotions.
    I really did not anticipate that the discussion would go in this direction, especially with your somewhat puzzling statement about "the sense of heartbreak was with him." Perhaps I am misreading or simply misunderstanding.
    I do confess, however, that this is a fascinating turn in the discussion for me.
    --Lannie
     
  243. Julie, I love your photograph of an emotion shown in the frame above, but whose emotion am I looking at? That of the viewer, the subject, or the photographer?
    (While I'm at it, what's the back story on that photo, Julie?)
    --Lannie
     
  244. I wonder how emotion is related to mood. The same question above arises, I suppose: whose mood?
    Here is one of my moody photos, for what it's worth. Does it betray my mood of the moment or of that epoch in my life? Can one possibly infer anything at all about my mental state (including emotions) while taking it? processing it? (I darkened it in post.)
    All that I remember is that I was happy that day. I had gotten myself a nearly new D3s on eBay for about half price, and for me shooting it was like driving a Cadillac. (I had never shot a professional grade Nikon before, although I had once owned a Canon 1Ds II.) So, in this particular case, I do remember something about my mood and/or emotional state. I'm not sure that any of that is relevant to "understanding" or responding to the photo, though.
    For the record, the title is a blatant lie. A storm had passed, but much of the day remained. The "imminent nightfall" was strictly something I decided to try in post, later in the evening. I think that I was still happy. I doubt that it shows. This is Julie's bird feeder, I think. You can see it, but you can't see the birds.
    Not only is the title a lie here. The whole photo is in some ways a total fiction. I doubt that it resembles either what I saw or what I felt. The final product is what I imagined during post-processing and was able to realize in the finished photo as presented. Looking at it now, I am not so happy with it. The darkness looks forced to me now.
    --Lannie
    00djKq-560637684.jpg
     
  245. Lannie, not sure about emotion, but that is an interesting picture. That road has character; it has skin; it looks like the (hump)back of a whale.
    Here's one for you to ponder: Holding Virginia by Sally Mann [LINK]
     
  246. Lannie, though there often might be, there often is not a one-to-one correspondence of photographer's emotion and emotion evoked. It's not that formulaic. You said it yourself. Remember the fiction part!
    A photographer may create something drawing from his emotional life in general rather than in specificity. I think many artists actually (re)create feeling rather than representing the feelings they have at the moment. Chopin knew melancholy and so could draw from those feelings to write the Nocturnes but I don't know that he was feeling melancholy precisely when he wrote each one. And I don't know that he was thinking about melancholy when he wrote them either. He was drawing upon it.
     
  247. I like the mood of that picture Lannie ( precisely because of the darkness ). Emotion and Imagination, as well as mood, go hand in hand. The higher vantage point gives the whole scene something cinematic. The Cadillac ( it could be any car really ) represents the American Myth of the open road ahead, it represents the excitement of uncertainty, unlike the conformity of the three cars that are parked dead on the driveways of their dull suburban type homes ( of course the Cadillac could also represent this in the form of luxury that's synonymous with the brand, but that's not what the car as a symbol wants to be, it wants to be free ) . The Cadillac too may be a parked car on some driveway, ready to conform. But as it is now, and as it is in the picture, it's moving ahead and is fueled by potential.
    Fred sums it up nicely, in how the photographer can draw upon feelings rather than represent them directly.
     
  248. Driving at dusk and dusk into night with your favorite music playing and your memories as company. There's no other feeling better than this when you feel it...
     
  249. Fred sums it up nicely, in how the photographer can draw upon feelings rather than represent them directly.​
    It's sort of like acting, I guess, Phil. Or teaching, which can be like stand-up comedy, especially when it fails. My late class seemed to be dragging today, and so I told the students that it was not their imagination that a fifty-minute class seemed like a two-hour class. I told them that I had gained so much weight that I was beginning to slow down time. (Their vacant stares told me that they didn't get the allusion to Einstein's relativistic effect, but I keep trying.) We have our emotional repertoires every time we go "on stage," which we are often doing, somewhere.
    --Lannie
     
  250. That road has character; it has skin; it looks like the (hump)back of a whale.
    Here's one for you to ponder: Holding Virginia by Sally Mann [LINK]​
    Virginia doesn't look too happy, Julie, and one can tell it. A bird obviously flew into the frame for that one.
    --Lannie
     
  251. "Driving at dusk and dusk into night with your favorite music playing and your memories as company. There's no other feeling better than this when you feel it..."
    A cam in my hand and the world before me...
     
  252. A touch of....
    00djOk-560646784.jpg
     
  253. I was wrong in some of my prior posts.
    I was wrong in saying that narrative and context and objective/rational were ingredient to emotion. They are key to setting the stage, but they aren't there in the feel. It takes billions of dollars and thousands of people years of work to launch a rocket or space ship, but once you hear 'We have liftoff!" or, in sport, once the ball has left the hand, or the body left the ground, once there is a letting go, a falling into ... the feel ... escapes. It's not narrative; it has no contextual breadth; it's not objective and it's not rational.
    The guitar player Wolfgang Muthspiel says: "With every note we play, we create a reality that surrounds us. So we can influence what we are surrounded by, what we invite." That's the context, the narrative, the rational, the objective; the preparation for launch. He also notes: "The guitar is by nature an instrument that can easily be chatty." This is also true of the camera. I would claim, however, that as long as we're being chatty, making thought-noises, the only role of emotion is as a functional lubricant. I don't think 'functional lubricant' is what Lannie is interested in. Big emotion is in a caesura, a break, a pause, a gasp, a letting go, or even something as small as a hesitation. The chatting stops; the ears prick, the nose sniffs nervously or wonderingly and you are invaded by feeling(s) ...
    I think a powerful emotional picture will have a narrative which it will break, it will not make sense.
    Another guitar player, Loren Connors (yes, I'm reading a book about guitar players), writes:
    Discover, don't search, when you're playing. If you can't surprise yourself, you can't surprise anyone else, either. It's not a matter of knowing, but of giving. No one wants to hear what you've learned. They want to hear what you're discovering right in front of their eyes.
    It's like a photo I have of two women who've just seen a tragedy in the street, and one woman is in terrible pain, but the other is very much more so, and the first woman is holding her up. Music, when it's at its best, the sound of it, is like that first woman, but what's inside you, is that other woman who would fall without your guitar's helping hand.​
    ******************
    Finally, reference this long thread and ones like it:
    One of the greatest things about loving the guitar [or photography!] is the camaraderie it creates ... We're almost like a secret society, a bright underworld. — Jeff Parker
     
  254. I don't think 'functional lubricant' is what Lannie is interested in.​
    Would you like to test that hypothesis, Julie?
    --Lannie
     
  255. SEX

    I have tended to stay away from sexual themes in this thread, since sexual desire can blow away subtler emotions. Even so, sometimes, beneath the surface, there is something else, something deeper and more profound. One can tell this when a woman's eyes make one forget her body, however briefly.
    It can happen, even in the face of the most blatant provocation.
    [LINK]

    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  256. Music, when it's at its best, the sound of it, is like that first woman, but what's inside you, is that other woman who would fall without your guitar's helping hand.​
    Wow, Julie. Wow.
    There's more:
    I think a powerful emotional picture will have a narrative which it will break, it will not make sense.​
    --Lannie
     
  257. This gem stands out, too, Julie:
    No one wants to hear what you've learned. They want to hear what you're discovering right in front of their eyes.​
    And going back to this. . .
    Big emotion is in a caesura, a break, a pause, a gasp, a letting go, or even something as small as a hesitation. The chatting stops; the ears prick, the nose sniffs nervously or wonderingly and you are invaded by feeling(s) ...​
    Then finally,
    One of the greatest things about loving the guitar [or photography!] is the camaraderie it creates ... We're almost like a secret society, a bright underworld. — Jeff Parker
    And you are seeing all this and sharing it right in front of us, Julie! You have personified emotion and gotten away with it.
    --Lannie
     
  258. Lannie wrote: "SEX"
    LOL. Was it "Liftoff!" or "lubricant" that provoked you?
    functional lubricant -- I was actually thinking of the everyday emotions, which I find lovely, that are ongoing amongst us. For one example, see Lannie's first linked picture, above, which I enjoy.
    To see gorgeous examples of this (the emotion knob is turned to 2 instead of 11, but, oh what a perfect, rich 2!) you can't do better than slowly savoring the faces in the portrait work of Seydou Keïta, in my opinion. [LINK]
     
  259. oh what a perfect, rich 2!​
    A glorious 2 it is!
    Actually, I was already looking at Doug's pictures (the last he posted on PN before departing for parts unknown) before I turned back to see what you had posted on the thread, so my mind was already "there" without any further provocation. [from you!] I knew instantly what you meant regarding those "everyday emotions" compared to the caesura, even the "small hesitation"--something that interrupts the flow of everyday life, something that moves us deeply.
    I presume that every photo that grabs us has some emotional component, even those that appear emotionally sterile and even banal, such as this wonder by Jack McRitchie.

    But you are right that it is the "big stuff," the stuff that shakes us down to our boots, that we would really like to emphasize--even if the big stuff is really little stuff that is either unexpected or thought-provoking. As usual, you have thought this through and are operating several layers beyond where I am at present on this thread--always ahead of me. On top of which you are always. . . reading. Where and how do you find such marvelous stuff?
    --Lannie
     
  260. Lannie wrote: "the "big stuff," the stuff that shakes us down to our boots ... "
    ... of snowdrops and compassion and jasmine and sex and history and espresso and dirt and flames and righteous anger and warmth and humanity's trail of tears and (to quote my good friend Hector Castillo) "sandpaper and honey," and the truly uncontrollable soaring flight of the unwittingly indomitable human spirit. — guitarist David Torn
    Maybe a wee bit over the top ...
     
  261. Big emotion is big emotion, regardless of the possibly banal context. Here is what you wrote early this morning:
    Big emotion is in a caesura, a break, a pause, a gasp, a letting go, or even something as small as a hesitation. The chatting stops; the ears prick, the nose sniffs nervously or wonderingly and you are invaded by feeling(s) ...​
    It doesn't take an earthquake or nuclear war to trigger big emotions, after all. The feelings--the strongest ones--often invade in a very prosaic and even routine domestic context.
    --Lannie
     
  262. Lannie wrote: "It doesn't take an earthquake or nuclear war to trigger big emotions, after all. The feelings--the strongest ones--often invade in a very prosaic and even routine domestic context."
    Very true. The trouble is, those are very hard to 'frame' so the subsequent viewer is aligned via that necessary pre-narrative -- which earthquakes pretty much provide without effort. You remember, I also wrote: "I think a powerful emotional picture will have a narrative which it will break, it will not make sense."
    To see what I mean, look at the work of Rinko Kawauchi. She does the prosaic, the routine emotional whammy beautifully but, because that necessary framing narrative is so hard to introduce for such almost random events, you should have to work a little bit to get into the emotion of her pictures. If you're not willing to try, they don't carry enough of a hook to force themselves on you like Big big emotion pictures do. And, really, 'trying' kind of doesn't work with emotion.
     
  263. Create your own narrative. Don't try too hard.
    [LINK]
    --Lannie
     
  264. I often get the sense that when photographer think of capturing "emotion", they tend to think more of Anger, rage, grief etc. Don't forget there is just as much, if not more, emotional intensity in joy, happiness, love etc. or inebriation:)[​IMG]
     
  265. Barry wrote: "I often get the sense that when photographer think of capturing "emotion", they tend to think more of Anger, rage, grief etc."
    Take a small but heavy black machine. Press its hard, sharp steel firmly against your face, dangerously close to your nose and eyes. Press if firmly so that it bites into the flesh and pushes your nose sideways. Worry about all the buttons, dials and settings that must be done right. Carefully, compose all the (moving?) stuff in front of the lens. Focus exactly. HOLD PERFECTLY STILL. Don't even breath. Now, in your most dramatic permitted gesture, move your index finger ever so slowly, just the tiniest bit to press the shutter release button.
    Now you can breath again.
    This kind of thing sort of kills the photographing of more jiggly kinds of emotion. By contrast, I think the iPhone, for all its aesthetic limits, encourages the photography of exuberance that we've not seen before simply because of its arms-length presentation.
    *********************
    I also think that many apparently melancholy pictures are in fact of a kind of quiet inner joy (boy am I getting dangerously close to sappy, here ... Hey, this is the emotion thread. Expect to be sapped.)
    Here is Adam Ekberg:
    ... driving into the mountains in Northern New Mexico, I'd always turn on the radio. There were very few radio stations, and I'd turn the radio dial, just listening to them disappear one by one until this one beautiful pregnant moment when they all went away. And you were alone in the mountains. A kind of euphoric loneliness. ... [T]hat is what I ask of my photographs -- to be a surrogate for an experience like that one.​
    I think that people alone with their cameras (as opposed to the many who are in a social context) are in a kind of different 'condition' or state somehow. I haven't thought too much about it, but the wheels are turning ... (looking at Lannie, who has already been accused of a kind of 'loneliness' in his pictures ... )
    *************************
    Further, further, there is a thing called, by Philip Fisher, "the aesthetics of rare experience." I'd claim that "rare" has to be 'mounted' on the un-rare like a diamond on its ring in order to make any sense. 'Rare' means I've seen it but you probably haven't. Yet.
     
  266. The default of photography as it is used by the everyday photographer since photography became widely used is actually joy, happiness, love, beauty,...All the things that one wants to remember in a photograph.
    Photography as an artistic expression - and art in general - has broader and deeper concerns than to only remember the joyous and beautiful. In the most expressive of art, joy and sorrow, beauty and pain, are recognized to be intimately interwoven.
     
  267. I also think that many apparently melancholy pictures are in fact of a kind of quiet inner joy (boy am I getting dangerously close to sappy, here ... Hey, this is the emotion thread. Expect to be sapped.) --Julie H.​
    One wonders to what extent that state of mind is an emotion at all, as commonly thought of. Is there a "contented" emotion? Is it sort of like a cat purring? Can one capture it visually?
    --Lannie
     
  268. ... "joy, happiness, love, beauty" Of whom??
    From my very, very, very first post, and, plaintively, throughout the thread, I've been trying to find out if we might say please, somebody say, whether we're talking about the fish at the end of the line, or the joy, happiness, love, [sense of] beauty of the person holding the fishing pole. If/when we conflate the two ends of the string/pole, the fish is catching us (oh, wait, in a way it is ...). Oh, never mind.
     
  269. "Can one capture it visually?"
    The tricky part is, beauty, which is often that on which one settles/invests ones feelings, isn't synonymous with emotion. They can partially overlap, but aren't the same.
     
  270. Don't forget there is just as much, if not more, emotional intensity in joy, happiness, love etc. or inebriation:) --Barry Fisher​
    I'm thinking a good Irish pub shot right now. . . . Superbowl Sunday might be a reasonable approximation with the right company.
    --Lannie
     
  271. "Superbowl Sunday"
    I've been waiting for somebody to bring up sports joy. But then you get into sorting out formulaic postures of "great joy" or "abject despair" which everybody, in this everybody-is-photographed/photographing culture, knows how to assume in unison.
     
  272. Photography as an artistic expression - and art in general - has broader and deeper concerns than to only remember the joyous and beautiful. In the most expressive of art, joy and sorrow, beauty and pain, are recognized to be intimately interwoven. --Phil S.
    The tricky part is, beauty, which is often that on which one settles/invests ones feelings, isn't synonymous with emotion. They can partially overlap, but aren't the same. --Julie H.​
    I think that I will undertake a new project: capturing (or even identifying visually) that which we call "bittersweet." If not my favorite emotion, it is one that I know too well from the inside out. Getting it from the outside in might be trickier.
    --Lannie
     
  273. I've been waiting for somebody to bring up sports joy. But then you get into sorting out formulaic postures of "great joy" or "abject despair" which everybody, in this everybody-is-photographed/photographing culture, knows how to assume in unison.​
    Julie, I live near Charlotte (think "the Panthers") and I am waiting for the Super Bowl noise to subside in the media, at which point I might try a selfie to capture "relief," or even "ecstasy."
    Alas, the NASCAR season awaits. Charlotte claims to own that, too. They name highways (even parts of the interstates) for NASCAR drivers here. The South is a whole 'nother world.

    --Lannie
     
  274. One wonders to what extent that state of mind is an emotion at all, as commonly thought of.​
    I could call it an emotion. I could call it something else. Wondering about it at this point would serve as a distraction to me if I were trying to talk about practical techniques for evoking emotion in photos.
    Is there a "contented" emotion?​
    There's "contentment," no matter how you categorize it.
    Is it sort of like a cat purring? Can one capture it visually?​
    Yes, it sort of is. And, yes, it can. That's a practical question. Can you stick with it? Let's not debate whether it can be captured visually. You wanted to talk about how, right? In general, because there will always be exceptions (which makes all of this non-formulaic and leaves much room for interpretation and variety), do strong high contrast photos evoke contentment in you? Do sharper textures or softer textures evoke it? Do aggressive expressions evoke contentment in you? In one of the recent photos you posted, does the framing evoke contentment where half the face is missing and we're just focused on the eye? Does a severe shadow or a burnt highlight across someone's face read contentedly to you? In general, what type of perspective and composition would provide more contentment (and other words I'd use here in thinking visually about this are resolution, completeness, comfort, less tension, harmonious, etc.) Yes, it can be captured visually. And it can be evoked. Even if the photographer is feeling anxious and jittery when he does so. Again, there will be all kinds of exceptions to the above, but there is a visual language after all and we're not all speaking to each other in tongues through our photos.
     
  275. Don't forget there is just as much, if not more, emotional intensity in joy, happiness, love etc​
    Barry, yes. Emotions also seem stronger and more intense when they're paired with their opposite. In Alien the monster pops out right after there was laughter and relief ( art is a form of relief too ). When you're laughing so hard that it hurts you want it to stop, but just not yet...
     
  276. By the way, Lannie, if you have any interest in exploring what you set out to explore in the OP, one way to do it would be to pick a photo that evokes contentment in you and analyze why it does. Practical techniques. Photographic techniques. Force yourself to stay away from words like "magic" and the minute you start getting theoretical and away from the photo, stop yourself in your tracks and tell yourself that's not what you asked. ;-)
     
  277. What magical advice, Fred!
    --Lannie
     
  278. You know what feels 'bittersweet' to me is the moon. For example all those pictures from another thread that you and several other people posted. Gorgeous and terrible at the same time. And I have an art book of NASA photos of Mars that is just luscious but likewise terrifying.
     
  279. Lannie, I was trying to be a little provocative but also to get back to the OP. Sorry if I went too far. It wasn't my intention to cross you completely. You asked a rather specific question about contentment (a specific emotion) which can be given a pretty visual and descriptive answer. I was encouraging you to do that. As I read through the thread, I think it's been way more philosophical/theoretical than practical. You may think differently, I don't know. But I don't think most of the thread has addressed what you asked for. Speaking of categorization, if I were to categorize this thread, and I suspect most who've silently read along would agree, it's almost the epitome of a Philosophy of Photography thread, though you seemed to have wanted something else.
     
  280. Gorgeous and terrible at the same time. And I have an art book of NASA photos of Mars that is just luscious but likewise terrifying.​
    Julie, I think of moon shots as a sub-genre of nature photography, and Nature does derive a lot of its beauty from the awe that it evokes in us--and that awe sometimes comes from that which is inherently terrifying, such as the cliffs of Yosemite.
    The moon at dusk? Not terrifying at all to me, although the moon can be dangerous in the summer sky. Typically, the moon is for me sort of like a decorative object in the background, or a knick-knack on an end table. I don't notice it on most nights. I have to be in a certain mood.
    Moon shots at deep dusk can put me in one of the highly contented moods that Fred speaks of above. I like this shot in part because it reminds me of that chilly evening, but I love it because it shows a bit of the "deep purple" of the shadow of the earth climbing in the eastern sky.
    Fred, this would qualify as a photo that does give me a sense of contentment upon viewing it, but I doubt that many other persons would feel what I feel, since they do not have my memories of that evening or of that epoch in my life.
    The photo posted here gives a bit of context or even "overview" for the scene that confronted me as I came around the curve. I knew that the full moon would be appearing, but it still caught me by surprise. Other photos posted here or in my portfolio are drawn from this shot or others made shortly thereafter. This was pretty much the first thing I saw upon getting out of the car. I subsequently went across the road and "set up shop" on a fence post in lieu of using a tripod.
    --Lannie
    00djYh-560677684.jpg
     
  281. As I read through the thread, I think it's been way more philosophical/theoretical than practical. You may think differently, I don't know.​
    Fred, there are certain philosophical questions which I wanted to avoid, but others which I welcome. Your comments are always welcome. Yes, we have drifted in a more philosophical direction, almost from the outset. You are right to direct us back to the way I asked the question, but I personally like the mix of practical and theoretical considerations--a photographic "praxis," if you will.
    --Lannie
     
  282. "the moon is for me sort of like a decorative object in the background, or a knick-knack on an end table."
    [eyes popping in dismay; I am shocked; I think I'm having the vapors and palpitations all at once; holding my hankie delicately over my horrified face ... ]
    Seriously, though, the moon is to me, always a marvelous thing. Where I live (way, way, way out in the country) it just glows in a firmament of glittery stars.
    There you go; how different two people can be.
     
  283. Fred, this would qualify as a photo that does give me a sense of contentment upon viewing it, but I doubt that many other persons would feel what I feel, since they do not have my memories of that evening or of that epoch in my life.​
    Lannie, then maybe that tells us that your memories of the evening are not what evokes emotion in another viewer's looking at the photo. My guess is that what's going to evoke emotion in a viewer is going to be something about the photo itself. That's why I asked you not necessarily about a photo of your own (though maybe I didn't make that clear). Pick a photo where the PHOTO, not the memory, evokes contentment in you and describe, visually, why it does that. Some of it, perhaps a large part, will be content. But some of it will be visual stuff, like all the stuff I mentioned above.
     
  284. There you go; how different two people can be.​
    Actually, Julie, I typically check out the sky every time I come out the door. When I do not, it is because I am too hurried or preoccupied--and I hate the fact that that is too much of the time. Yes, the moon and the sky--and above all weather--are very special to me, so much so that I will simply drive out into the countryside (not far from where I live) in order to just glory in the view.
    Where I live now barely allows me to see the sky. I don't like that. I wish that I were in the country, too. I wish that I could see the entire sky every night far from city lights. Even in the country here, if I look in one direction, I see Charlotte's glow. In the other direction, I can see the glow of Winston-Salem. Too many people live in this section of North Carolina. That is partly why I rented a trailer on a Mennonite farm from winter, 2003 to summer, 2005. Sometimes I wish I were still there. Life was simpler but much sweeter.
    --Lannie
     
  285. Lannie, then maybe that tells us that your memories of the evening are not what evokes emotion in another viewer's looking at the photo.​
    Fred, I know that you are right and that one is typically on safer ground in posting someone else's photo. In this case, though, I chose this photo (1) because not long after I took it my work situation turned absolutely horrible, and so this would turn out to be like an "end of epoch" shoot for me, and (2) because (in spite of the foregoing) there are quite a few people (like Julie!) whose own memories or even ways of looking at (idealizing?) nature make them capable of appreciating the same kind of moment--in this case the full moon.
    More recently, I have become enamored of shots made of the moon a day or two before it is full when both the moon and the earth are fully illuminated--but those I appreciate on a different level. I actually have azimuth and altitude charts that I now consult for seeing and shooting the moon. Something is lost but something is gained at looking at casual/romantic lunar photography as more of an applied science rather than little more than an expression of emotion. (Yes, I see the oxymoron.) I realize how weird those last clauses sound in the context of this thread, but that is who I am. I emote a lot when I shoot. I yet post what I post (in general, not for this thread) precisely because I want to share that emotion--if there are others who feel it, too. Sometimes there are. It is mostly for such unknown persons that I shoot. I don't think that most of my shots resonate with too many people. I am resigned to that, and it does not trouble me a bit.
    Sometimes I just like to watch the shadow of the earth climb slowly and then fairly quickly move across the sky. I don't know how many people can relate to that, but they would be my "target audience" if I had one. As it is, I just toss my shots out there and hope that somebody gets it. Once in a while somebody does.
    --Lannie
     
  286. Ultimately it's the emotional investment of the photographer, not any practical technique or tricks of the trade that makes photographs breath emotion and not merely illustrate it. It's easy to get to the heart of the technique by searching for any emotion on a stock photography site.
     
  287. It's easy to get to the heart of the technique​
    I think that's false. I think it's quite important and not that easy to get to the heart of technique. The heart of technique and the heart of seeing and looking and describing and the heart of the photographer all work together. I think there's a tendency to dwell on the emotional state of the photographer to the exclusion of all the rest and I think it's a mistake. You don't learn music without having a sense of how to create tension and resolution, harmonically and rhythmically. I'm not saying that's enough. But I am saying it's important and it can be discussed. If all a musician discusses is how much he feels and doesn't know how to use his instrument or how to write the notes to express that, he's not getting anywhere.
     
  288. Phil wrote: "Ultimately it's the emotional investment of the photographer ... "
    I agree completely. Fukase's The Solitude of Ravens pictures are terrible technically (really terrible), and the book makes no sense at all if you look at individual pictures, yet it manages to reach, powerfully, many, many people.
     
  289. But, to be honest, if we're going to wind up by arguing whether the original OP (practical photographic ways to evoke emotions) was even worth discussing, I'll bow out now, because I can see this heading right back into the ozone.
     
  290. Fred, these threads don't usually stay completely on topic, and I have stopped worrying about that. I don't mean for that to sound flippant, but it is sort of like departing from a course syllabus for me--some students can't stand it. Others welcome the free-wheeling style. (No one is my student here, but that was only an analogy.)
    Some of the best PoP threads wander far and wide, and the original poster has little control over them. I sort of like that. I'm not in charge of the thread, and I have no intention of arguing over which way the thread goes or should go. "The wind/Spirit goes where it will." (LINK)
    I say, "Let it flow."
    In my opinion, if persons want a thread to go in a particular direction, then they can post something bearing in that direction. If two or three threads are interwoven, it doesn't bother me a bit. Like river currents that diverge and then recombine, the river yet gets bigger as it does downstream, but I think that it is the richer for that--especially where ideas are concerned.
    Then, suddenly, one day, a thread just dies. Just like that.
    --Lannie
     
  291. Lannie, this will be my final post to the thread. I didn't ask you about the threads or whether and why they wander. I asked you what photographic qualities or aspects in a specific photo of your choosing evoke contentment. If you can't or don't want to answer that, I accept. You don't even need to do it in the thread. Just an offer of something you might think about.
    On to the warm, sunny San Francisco game day. You may have a team to think about, but I have increased traffic and fans to contend with!
     
  292. Say what, Fred?
     
  293. I asked you what photographic qualities or aspects in a specific photo of your choosing evoke contentment.​
    I might get around to that again, Fred. In fact, if you will recall, I chose one already. It was one of mine. (See inline "moon picture" above.)
    Thanks for your many contributions.
    --Lannie
     
  294. Well, here is where we have come from and where we are now.
    This (the below) was thirteen days and about three hundred posts ago.
    --Lannie
    Fred G. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG], Jan 25, 2016; 10:11 a.m.
    Suggestion: Since you want this to be practical as opposed to philosophical, which seems a laudable goal, pick a photo that you think captures or expresses or causes an emotion and let's talk about how it gets there. Link to the photo, name the emotion and talk about what it is in the photo that seems to capture, express, or cause that emotion. Otherwise, we're going to go back and forth to nowhere, which seems not to be what you want.
     
  295. Lannie, then maybe that tells us that your memories of the evening are not what evokes emotion in another viewer's looking at the photo. My guess is that what's going to evoke emotion in a viewer is going to be something about the photo itself. --Fred G. (Emphasis supplied.)​
    My sense, Fred, is that that is sort of like looking for what Kant called the ding an sich, a concept that I know you are familiar with. I am not saying that it is exactly the same idea, but I do think that looking for the key to which techniques help us to evoke emotion might be a futile quest. If so, then the thread failed (to the extent that it failed) because the question as I posed it is unanswerable--a distinct possibility, one that does not thrill me me, but one that I must consider. It succeeded, in my opinion, to the extent that others reformulated the question in their own minds before trying to respond.
    I am now more interested in what both photographer and viewer see and feel, whether there is much communication or congruence of perception or not.
    Briefly stated, my view on this is that both photographer and viewer bring differing conceptual frameworks and differing emotions to what they see--not exactly a new observation. "The eye" is critical at both ends, I believe. Having a "good eye," that is, not only makes one a better photographer. It makes one a better interpreter of photographs, I believe--in the sense that, even as a viewer, some see "more" or even better than others. On this view, some critics (such as yourself) have more interesting things to say than others.
    I will let it rest at that, inadequate as that might be as a summary of my thoughts at this point.
    --Lannie
     
  296. Phil wrote: "Ultimately it's the emotional investment of the photographer ... "
    I agree completely. Fukase's The Solitude of Ravens pictures are terrible technically (really terrible), and the book makes no sense at all if you look at individual pictures, yet it manages to reach, powerfully, many, many people.​

    Julie, yes, but I don't so much meant with 'practical technique' something that conforms to a technical standard but anything that involves the manipulation of the medium's form and content, like in Fukase's case the way he processed and printed the images to look the way they do. A big part of it in Solitude of Ravens is in the sequencing and layout of the individual photographs as they appear in the book. It's the book that is the work, rather than the book being a collection of individual works. The sequencing and juxtaposition between two photographs is one of the techniques that can be used to evoke an emotional response in a viewer. The sequencing in Robert Frank's books being another classic example of syntax as a photographic technique to create / communicate meaning.
    However, and we seem to agree on this, without the emotional investment of the photographer as that what the technique is used for to express and communicate, an over reliance on technique can quickly become a thin coating. It's tricky sometimes - especially from the creator's own point of view - to separate the two and not mistake one for the other.
     
  297. Julie seems to be confusing technique with technical quality.
    Phil now is approaching something practical when he talks about manipulation of the medium's form and content, which is what I've been trying to talk about but not succeeding.
    Lannie is pessimistic, IMO, when he concludes that his original question was futile. Answering the original question requires some hard work and some visual orientation and specifics in addition to the emotional outpourings and all the many examples of emotional photos.
     
  298. However, and we seem to agree on this, without the emotional investment of the photographer as that what the technique is used for to express and communicate, an over reliance on technique can quickly become a thin coating.​
    Phil, I believe that an over-reliance on technique can devolve to something like "painting by the numbers." Formulaic approaches to photography abound. What drives Fred (if I may say) is the belief that examining technique need not result in such unfortunate and banal results. Master photographers do not necessarily feel more deeply than the rest of us, but they have a way of getting their feelings to show in the photo. A great song-writer may be a miserable photographer. Burt Bacharach said it with music and Hal David did so with lyrics. Could they have said it with images?
    So. . . Fred's question remains. Yes, I posted it on this thread, but the idea I got from Fred years ago. I don't remember what he said to raise the question in my mind. It has been percolating in my self-conscious ever since. I still cannot answer it. The question remains: which techniques can be used to evoke emotion?
    --Lannie
     
  299. Phil, I think we're agreeing. I posted without thinking about the exact meaning, but I agree with what you just wrote.
    The last necessity, after what you've noted is for the reader/viewer to 'get' the rightness of the non-technique as technique. It is exactly as it needs to be which, to my mind happens when the photographer is inside his feelings and not 'outside' micro-managing them.
    And then we viewers need to puzzle over the fat lady and the cat ... :)
     
  300. Oops! Didn't see your post, Fred.
    --Lannie
     
  301. I can see this heading right back into the ozone.​
    That's very evocative, Fred. I even have a sort of image of that in my mind.
    --Lannie
     
  302. "How does one capture an emotion?"

    I shoot in order to express my own emotional state and to please my own aesthetic sense, and I hope that what pleases my eye and resonates with my psyche and emotions might resonate with someone else's as well.
    That's my answer, Fred. That's my entire "technique."
    --Lannie
     
  303. what pleases my eye and resonates with my psyche
    When we read a poem, listen to music, watch a movie, visit a museum, when we try to clear our minds while going on a run or a walk, when we glance at the moon, when we are bored and stuck in a traffic jam, when we are all these things big and smal, we have essentially sponged up and captured emotions into our psyche, ready for them to be released whenever the camera shutter opens. The capture happens long before the photograph takes place.
     
  304. I shoot in order to express my own emotional state and to please my own aesthetic sense, and I hope that what pleases my eye and resonates with my psyche and emotions might resonate with someone else's as well.That's my answer, Fred.

    That's my entire "technique."​
    Thanks, Lannie. As I figure you know, it's not an answer to my question.

    My question was:
    I asked you what photographic qualities or aspects in a specific photo of your choosing evoke contentment.​

    You have answered here by talking about why you shoot, which has nothing to do with the question I asked or the one in your OP. But I sense we're at an impasse and that we're not making any progress, so I'm sure more will be revealed in other ways in the future.
     
  305. Here's what it seems like to me. You ask someone to talk about four refutations of Deacartes's cogito. They tell you why
    they became a philosopher, how they'd go about researching this, they list seventeen philosophers who have given
    refutations, and then talk abou the beauty of the cogito itself. You came close when you posted the moon photo and
    talked about your memory of the night. You also said you thought most viewers would not feel the contenemt you felt. So
    it was an example of a photo that WOULD NOT evoke emotions in the viewer. So, that's why I asked you to choose a
    photo by another person, not yourself, and talk about the things both in terms of content, form, and style, in terms of
    texture and composition and perspective that evoke contentment in you, where you don't have the convenience of having
    been there to be influenced by your own memory of the situation. But I sense exhaustion, so feel free not to go there. It's where I thought you wanted to go but I am likely very wrong.
     
  306. It's worth doing, Fred, but I can't right now. I truly am exhausted, but not by the thread.
    There is a sense, however, in which I really do think that talking about how specifics of a photo evoke contentment (or any other emotion) really might be barking up the wrong tree, given the multiplicity of types of successful photos where the evocation of emotion is concerned. By directing the focus inward to what I feel, I am admittedly almost giving up on analyzing the way that I photograph, at least as you speak of identifying the elements of the photo, etc. As for how great photographers photograph, and whether they would try to identify specific elements of the photo as evoking emotion or anything else, I really don't know. I don't think that most persons who take emotionally evocative photos ask, "How am I going to make an emotionally evocative photo? What specific elements in the photo are needed in order to achieve that goal?" I might be wrong, but then I know little of the critical literature and even less of the discussions with photographers who have been successful in evoking strong emotions.
    I do applaud you for trying that approach. It might yield some fruit. I am not so sure that it would help me to improve my own photography. I would be interested in hearing what other photographers have said in that regard, if you should happen to know.
    --Lannie
     
  307. Fred, here is something that I wrote in response to Julie in a new thread on the psychology of photography. It might have some relevance for the present discussion. I am not sure.
    My photography is expressive of something that is bottled up in bureaucratized and homogenized society. That something is indeed freedom and whatever other psychological needs are being suppressed in hierarchical, coercive social structures. How that "something' comes out, and why it succeeds once in a while in producing a photo of my own that I like, I really don't know. I am increasingly uncertain that I even need to know. Some of it seems serendipitous. Some of it even seems guided by forces beyond myself. I'm not trying to sound like a mystic here. That is simply what I feel sometimes.​
    I think I must have slept through all the discussions of creativity that I was ostensibly a part of in grad school. In any case, none of them had much of an impact on me. Nor do I have any good theories of my own about the creative impulse, or any manifestation of it, including the evocation of emotion. I can say that all of it seems to come from within, but that does not answer your questions or mine in the present thread. I certainly don't blame you for continuing to answer the questions we have raised.
    I guess that my views have now evolved into a position of profound skepticism regarding your own way of thinking about these issues: "My guess is that what's going to evoke emotion in a viewer is going to be something about the photo itself." Okay, what you say in that quote seems obviously to be true, but it does not necessarily follow that analyzing the photos themselves will find that "something." You are analyzing outcomes. I find it more promising to look at processes, especially psychological processes. That line of inquiry may be doomed to failure as well.
    --Lanni
     
  308. Again, it's not a matter of looking for a formula or any sort of one-to-one correspondence. So, no, I'm not forever analyzing the way I photograph. I do analyze others' photographs and not just how they make me feel but why they make me feel a certain way. That doesn't lead me to do the same things as them to get the same effects and it doesn't lead me to want to explore the very same emotions as they do. It just goes into the big mixing pot I use when I'm making photos. It's part inspirational and part visually linguistic. You don't study syntax, vocabulary, and grammar, metaphor and alliteration, poetic rhythms and meters so you can always be analyzing your own writing and speaking. You do it to develop a fluency with language and communication. And sometimes I do want a very specific emotional direction for a photo and it's nice to have the tools to be able to do that. Sure, folks will disagree with what the emotion may be or how the photo makes them feel. But if I feel it's in the emotional ballpark I want it to be, then I'm usually OK with what I've come up with.
     
  309. This was the first version of this photo I made. I didn't think much about the emotion I felt or wanted to evoke but when I looked at the photo it felt a bit mysterious, a bit down, a bit lonely, maybe even a bit foreboding.
    00djdr-560686584.jpg
     
  310. A few years later now I'm needing to print the photo (which I hadn't done before) and started preparing the file for the lab I use. Kind of spontaneously, I started to see it in a different light after having set it aside for these few years. Now I felt I wanted more optimism out of it, more lightheartedness, and perhaps more a sense of longing or even winsomeness/pleasantness than loneliness. So this is what I came up with. So, yes, of course I thought about what kind of emotion I wanted out of this photo and I proceeded accordingly. Am I always this deliberate? Of course not. And the fact that one analyzes these things does not mean one approaches shooting or even processing analytically. It just means there are more raw material deep down to work with, IMO.
    00djdt-560686684.jpg
     
  311. Just a note: The purpose of posting these two photos is NOT to find out which anyone likes better or even if anyone likes either. It's to show the way I went about visually changing how the photo looked in order to come to the emotional feel I wanted for the photo. Like I said, you may not feel the same I do about each photo. That's fine and mostly irrelevant to this discussion though it's interesting in its own right. What this is meant to show is the connection for me between choices I make and emotions I get to. Some are deliberate, some are more intuitional. But I believe they are all choices and I believe they are all founded in the sum of my experience, both emotional and VISUAL.
     
  312. I don't think that most persons who take emotionally evocative photos ask, "How am I going to make an emotionally evocative photo?​
    I don't know about most people, but I thought you did, to start this thread.
     
  313. I guess that my views have now evolved into a position of profound skepticism regarding your own way of thinking about these issues: "My guess is that what's going to evoke emotion in a viewer is going to be something about the photo itself." Okay, what you say in that quote seems obviously to be true, but it does not necessarily follow that analyzing the photos themselves will find that "something." You are analyzing outcomes. I find it more promising to look at processes, especially psychological processes.​
    You know, I just got into bed, closed my eyes, and found myself so puzzled about where this thread wound up and it just struck me why, and this statement of yours kind of captures it. What you're saying is that the answer to what's evocative about a photo is to be found in psychology rather than in photography. I've never encountered quite so much resistance as in this thread, and not just from you, to what is seen, or as you call it, "outcomes." I now better understand why you haven't talked about or described what's seen, the photo. I can more appreciate now why you've talked about your memories and feelings, but not about what you're looking at when you look at a photo. And as I note you've got a lot of support in that. To say I'm left baffled would be an understatement. And this is not meant as a dig. Sometimes being baffled is inspirational.
     
  314. Here is a folder full of both full frame and cell phone shots in which I used Photoshop layers to convert to various B&W or other monochrome effects using color sliders on variants of the SAME PHOTO(S). I generally am more attuned to the purely visual in such manipulations, but there is no doubt that my mood at the time may affect which I find to be more pleasing visually.
    Looking back to these photos, worked on late last spring and early summer, I don't remember thinking too much about moods and emotions while sliding those little color sliders around (or adjusting levels or contrast or whatever). I just went with what I liked, what was pleasing to me and my eye, for whatever reason.
    I'm not trying to be difficult or obscure here. I am just reporting what I did. If I could remember what I felt, I would report that, too.
    I did play a lot of moody music while doing these, but I cannot begin to remember which mood or which song or anything else went with which photo--but I can generally tell you which color sliders were shifted left or right to get a particular monochrome effect.
    I'm just reporting the facts as well as I can. I'm sorry that I don't remember more about my mood or my emotions of the moment.
    --Lannie
     
  315. Wow, wow, wow. We are really missing each other. I haven't asked you about your mood at the time. Nor did I talk about my mood at the time I was processing the two photos above. And, I get it. You just move slider bars around to make pleasing pictures. I think that's . . . nice. And I think you've answered your OP.
     
  316. Lannie, you've said over and over throughout the years that you don't think your photos evoke the kinds or degree of emotions that other photographers you point to do. I have long thought maybe that's something that bothers you or that you wanted to change. I'm now thinking it's not at all and that's powerful information to me. It changes completely how I would have approached this thread. My bad.
    In any case, you've asked and I've tried to answer. No, I don't think you're intentionally being difficult at all, thoough this has been a tortuous thread to me. Not because anyone's being difficult but because we are not speaking the same language.
     
  317. The purpose of posting these two photos is NOT to find out which anyone likes better or even if anyone likes either. It's to show the way I went about visually changing how the photo looked in order to come to the emotional feel I wanted for the photo.​
    I wasn't trying to find an "emotional feel," Fred. I was trying to create a visually pleasing photo. Whatever else happened or happens is just icing--and is totally unpredictable.
    I don't see the emotion in either of your two versions of the same photo. Emotions are very subjective states which only you are privy to. Or, at least, you failed to communicate them to me. That's not your fault. It isn't my fault, either.
    You have universalized from what I felt or how I proceeded on that sequence of photos, which is little more than a mini-travelogue of my drive home for spring semester, 2015, to all of my photography. There are others where the post-processing did indeed evoke something, but this is often an unexpected result. I do not start with the emotion that I want to evoke. I start with the reality in front of my lens. In post I can try different things to see what I get, and sometimes what I get has an emotional impact. I don't start with that as a goal, but sometimes it happens.
    I am pleased when it happens. I wish that it happened more often.
    --Lannie
     
  318. Here is my grandson Luke back in 2009.
    --Lannie
    00djfs-560691584.jpg
     
  319. Here is my grand-nephew Noah from the same general epoch.
    --Lannie
    00djft-560691684.jpg
     
  320. Lannie, that's perfectly fine. I don't really care whether you see the emotion in either of my photos. That wasn't my point, to get you to see some sort of emotion or feel something. My point was to show you how I connect what I see in a photo to what it makes me feel. Not so you can see that same connection, but just so you can see how a connection can be made between what a photo looks like and what it makes someone feel. The bottom line is that it doesn't matter anymore and, like I said, I don't think we want anything similar out of photography and don't think we're really talking the same language. Given where the thread ended up, where you've clearly stated your goal to be making pleasing pictures, that's simply something very different than I was imagining this thread was about. So, again, my bad.
     
  321. Here is my granddaughter Libby from about a decade ago.
    --Lannie
    00djfy-560691784.jpg
     
  322. I'm not just out to get pleasing pictures, Fred. I fish for pictures. I catch a lot. Sometimes one moves me. I like that when it happens. I don't have a recipe or formula for making it happen. I sort of wish I did. . . maybe.
    --Lannie
     
  323. So, Landrum, after a long thread, what would you say is the answer to your question?
     
  324. I'll get back to you on that, Q.G. I am not sure at this point. Fred and I are perhaps talking past each other at this point.
    --Lannie
     
  325. "Perhaps"? My impression is that you have been for most of the thread, Landrum. Fred was addressing your question much, much longer than you were. You appeared to wander off quite soon, often and far, hence (also) my question above.
     
  326. Fred, here is what I responded to Q.G. in another forum:
    Q.G., there was a lot of trial and error on those photos because I had just learned how to use layers and sliders to achieve certain effects in black and white photography.
    Perhaps with time I will be able to predict the results. I am not there yet.
    The "what and why" both at the point I took and [the point I] processed them was more along the lines of, "Let's see what this does."​
    I hope to progress beyond that primitive level in terms of understanding what makes a photo a good and evocative photo--and how to get that result.
    --Lannie
     
  327. I generally am more attuned to the purely visual in such manipulations, but there is no doubt that my mood at the time may affect which I find to be more pleasing visually.
    Looking back to these photos, worked on late last spring and early summer, I don't remember thinking too much about moods and emotions while sliding those little color sliders around (or adjusting levels or contrast or whatever).​
    That collection of images is like showing us all the raw ingredients that could make a whole meal. Like it is now, there's little meaning in it. But looking at the collection and going over the images I can see something in there, something that I could work with if I wanted to make a collection or small porfolio that's more evocative and taps into a feeling or mood.
    The feeling and mood that can be brought out in a collection of images, could then in turn further inform what one looks at and how one sees ( and consequently how one feels, you have to feel it first, before you can transmit it ) the next time when out photographing. It's a continuous process.
     
  328. Q.G.., sometimes I post a general question without having thought it through. The questions then evolve as people weigh in. I am not sorry for that. Sometimes all of our writing and thinking only serve to refine the question, as in philosophy.
    Other times, the tangents wind up being more interesting than the original question or questions. There was more than one question that became salient as the thread unfolded.
    I applaud Fred for staying on the scent of the original most salient question. I'm not sorry for having wandered off on some side trails.
    --Lannie
     
  329. That collection of images is like showing us all the raw ingredients that could make a whole meal.​
    Phil, that little folder fulfills my original goal of partially documenting the routes I took back from Union County, NC--an area I had not previously ever traveled through. So. . . I started driving back roads to see what I could find.
    Some of the photos have more than documentary potential, and perhaps I will come back to them to see if I can realize that potential. Perhaps not. There is a lot of world out there to see and shoot. I do rather like the photo of the house with the pond, but I am not sure what else to do with it--except to learn to do it better and to avoid generating too much noise in post. I am not sure that it is worth reshooting. (It was shot at 55 mph hand-held aiming out the right window at moderately high ISO and 1/8000 sec shutter speed--hardly a formula for excellence.) My big lesson from that outing is that high shutter speeds can nearly supplant the need for tripods--nearly, but not quite, and certainly not in all situations.
    --Lannie
     
  330. Some of the photos have more than documentary potential, and perhaps I will come back to them to see if I can realize that potential.​
    My point is mainly that the collection as it is now has the potential to not only show and be a document of what you saw and photographed when driving around, but to also be a document of a feeling, not necessarily how you actually felt at that time when you were photographing, but how it could have felt when driving around these roads. I'm pretty sure that a selection of maybe 6, 8, no more than 10 images, when processed uniformly and playing off of each other in both their form and content could 'capture' something, an emotion, a mood, maybe even the essence of the place. That's the start, rather than trying to approach it from the single image. The 'single image' happens when photographing and prior to the editing and selection process.
     
  331. Q.G.: So, Landrum, after a long thread, what would you say is the answer to your question?

    Lannie: Q.G., sometimes I post a general question without having thought it through. The questions then evolve as people weigh in. I am not sorry for that. Sometimes all of our writing and thinking only serve to refine the question, as in philosophy.​
    In other words, no answer.
    Lannie: I am not asking the philosophical question of whether one can photograph an emotion. I am asking about practical techniques for attempting to do so.

    Phil: That collection of images is like showing us all the raw ingredients that could make a whole meal. Like it is now, there's little meaning in it. But looking at the collection and going over the images I can see something in there, something that I could work with if I wanted to make a collection or small porfolio that's more evocative and taps into a feeling or mood.
    Lannie: Some of the photos have more than documentary potential, and perhaps I will come back to them to see if I can realize that potential. Perhaps not. There is a lot of world out there to see and shoot. I do rather like the photo of the house with the pond, but I am not sure what else to do with it--except to learn to do it better and to avoid generating too much noise in post. I am not sure that it is worth reshooting. (It was shot at 55 mph hand-held aiming out the right window at moderately high ISO and 1/8000 sec shutter speed--hardly a formula for excellence.) My big lesson from that outing is that high shutter speeds can nearly supplant the need for tripods--nearly, but not quite, and certainly not in all situations.​
    In other words, I really have little interest in my original question or your practical recommendations in response to my question at all. I mostly want to get out there and shoot more and, by the way, I can list my camera settings. Instead of coming around to talking about your ideas for getting these photos to be evocative, the question I thought I was asking, I'll talk about excellence and prior to that about pushing around slider bars to make pleasing images and now I'll talk about noise and what I learned about shutter speeds. For good measure, I'll still claim to be interested in evoking emotion and applaud Fred while I'm at it.

    Though you've really given no answer to Q.G.'s question, you've simultaneously given a revealing answer to it. You haven't the interest or the staying power.

    It's like you met an attractive woman at a bar, got a little loose after a few drinks, flirted with her while you felt her flirting back, whispered some sweet nothings in her ear to which she responded in kind, even talked a little dirty, and told her you wanted to take her home for a night of unbridled sex. Then you got home, got out the chips, and turned on the TV.
    Of course, I'm not saying you should want to or be able to make evocative photos or passionate love. I'm just asking you not to mislead your dates.
     
  332. You're not my date, Fred.
    And those two photos of yours above evoke. . . exactly what?
    --Lannie
     
  333. I don't really care whether you see the emotion in either of my photos.​
    There is no emotion in your photos, Fred. You failed as a photographer. Anyone who wishes may scroll up the page to see your two photos and see for themselves. Your verbose analysis brought absolutely nothing to fruition.
    Frankly, you haven't asked me anything worth responding to, beyond what I have already said. If I had more to say to such banal and aggressive badgering, I would say it. You are also juxtaposing my responses to Q.G out of context.
    --Lannie
     
  334. As for your two photos above, you say this:
    Now I felt I wanted more optimism out of it, more lightheartedness, and perhaps more a sense of longing or even winsomeness/pleasantness than loneliness. So this is what I came up with. So, yes, of course I thought about what kind of emotion I wanted out of this photo and I proceeded accordingly. Am I always this deliberate? Of course not.​
    So you fiddled with levels, brightness, etc. Fred, you are a genius! Imagine, creating a more cheery mood by adding some light! You have got to publish your new insights.
    --Lannie
     
  335. RESPONSE TO Q.G. (short version):

    Q.G. de Bakker [​IMG][​IMG], Feb 08, 2016; 10:07 a.m.
    So, Landrum, after a long thread, what would you say is the answer to your question?
    Landrum Kelly [​IMG][​IMG], Feb 08, 2016; 10:10 a.m.
    I'll get back to you on that, Q.G. I am not sure at this point. Fred and I are perhaps talking past each other at this point.
    --Lannie
    MY RESPONSE TO MY OWN QUESTION? ("How does one capture an emotion?")
    Shoot from the gut! If you want to show emotion, it helps to feel it in the first place.
    --Lannie
     
  336. RESPONSE TO PHIL S.:
    My point is mainly that the collection as it is now has the potential to not only show and be a document of what you saw and photographed when driving around, but to also be a document of a feeling, not necessarily how you actually felt at that time when you were photographing, but how it could have felt when driving around these roads. --Phil S.​
    Why on earth would I want to do that, Phil? That's not what I do. The "collection" stands as it is and does not purport to be more than what it is.
    I would prefer to move on, to shoot something else. I appreciate your own collections, or at least the one that I have seen (the one you linked to). You are a true artist. If I had your skills, I might try what you suggest. It is good to know one's artistic limitations. Mine are pretty obvious.
    --Lannie
     
  337. You know, I just got into bed, closed my eyes, and found myself so puzzled about where this thread wound up and it just struck me why, and this statement of yours kind of captures it. What you're saying is that the answer to what's evocative about a photo is to be found in psychology rather than in photography. --Fred G. (Emphasis supplied.)​
    Yes, indeed, if by "photography" you are giving primacy and emphasis to technique. What is evocative is indeed finally to be traced to psychological origins--back inside the artist. One looks inward, or at least that is a necessary condition (though not a sufficient one). The phony, the artistic poseur, looks outward, at externalities, superficialities. He thinks that soulless photographers are going to create photos with "soul."
    No, they will not, except in their own minds. What they will tend to create with such a vacuous over-emphasis on external technique is over-worked photos contrived by would-be great photographers who try too hard to show how great they are. Nothing natural is going to show through, because there is no core there to show through in the first place. Nature will have been completely erased by artifice.
    That kind of superficial work is always going to seem contrived because it is contrived. It is going to look over-worked because the images are indeed over-worked. It is going to look self-conscious because the egotistical self-conscious artist with no feeling (no "soul") is going to bring his or her own self-consciousness to the photo. He or she will do that because such persons have nothing else to bring--and absolutely nothing of value to share or communicate.
    Their work will look. . . phony. Do you want to create an illusion of emotion starting from a certain emptiness of the psyche? Good luck!

    Authenticity is to be found within oneself, not in the artificial and phony veneer of a preoccupation with technique. Oh, one can always find some kind of following for that kind of work. Even "Elvis on Velvet" is revered in certain quarters.
    If a person's photos never manage to look natural (and naturally emotionally evocative), it is because they are not genuinely evocative. They are totally artificial. He who wants may pursue that kind of empty quest. "Art" and "artificial" come from the same etymological root, but truly great art speaks to the universality of human nature. There is a paradox here, but it is a linguistic conundrum: in spite of the etymological similarities, great art is not going to look artificial. It is going to look natural.
    Its message (and it will have one) will be universal. It will above all not be an exercise in narcissism. Its purpose will not be to shock or disgust, but to resonate, and resonate not with just any old human emotion, but with the more worthy ones.
    --Lannie
     
  338. Lest I be misunderstood, let me offer as a caveat this response that I gave to Julie H. on the parallel ongoing thread about psychology and photography:
    If it enrages, moves, disturbs you, then I'd say it's more art than that which you find comfortable. --Julie H.
    I agree with that, Julie. Not all art is pretty, nor should it strive to be. It may yet be "pleasing" to the artist who captures or creates it, since it achieved or produced the desired effect. The viewer, on the other hand, may be revolted. Not every portrayal of reality is going to produce an agreeable emotion. That which is revolting can, I believe, still be art. One may even be driven to expose that which is revolting, such as by showing the bitter fruits of exploitation and discrimination, or the pain and suffering of the Depression and the Dust Bowl. --Lannie Kelly​
    When I spoke of great art in the post immediately above, I said this: "Its purpose will not be to shock or disgust. . ." I meant this in the sense of being pornographic or downright pathological (whatever on earth that might entail). Having said that, sometimes art of a certain sort has to be disagreeable, even shocking, to be evocative and to have any force. If, on the other hand, the point of shocking the viewer is to draw attention to oneself as a "great artist," then I think that one has shown only narcissism.
    --Lannie