Eye of the beholder

18 October

Eye of the beholder

When does a photograph become art?

Photography, like art and pretty much anything creative, is subjective and biased; it tries to lead the viewer towards the artist’s vision behind the shot. Of course being subjective, the viewer can have their own opinion about what they are seeing and what it represents. To many, Pablo Picasso’s cubist period represent an incredible artist’s vision of that style and how it could be used for portrait paintings, to others the strange anatomy and angles appear almost like a drawing done by a child. In effect the old saying “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” decides what is considered art.

There are “professional artists” out there who would disagree with that last statement because they follow a set of “rules” when creating art. In the case of photography – lighting, exposure, composition, etc all come together to create some truly stunning photographs. Sure, if you are entering a photograph into a competition you can expect the judges to judge on these criteria but let us ignore technique for a moment. Art, even photography, should elicit an emotional response, stir feelings inside the viewer or simply make them think. To hell with the rules!

As a designer we are taught to see shapes and the importance of negative space in our designs, which first and foremost are meant to grab the viewer’s attention. This knowledge can subconsciously serve us in photography, allowing us to see shapes in a subject matter or within the environment which others may not notice until after the photo has been taken and maybe not even then. There is no denying that design and photography is a powerful combination. The advancement in software allows us to create effects, which used to require complex techniques in a darkroom but can occur now with a click of a mouse button. Our creativity can bring these two elements together in ways either cannot alone.

This month’s backdrop is a photo taken at the British Museum in London while on holidays. The shadows create an almost fractured glass look to what would otherwise be a stark wall with a lone figure walking to who knows where, lost in a deep personal thought about who knows what.

This lone figure serves as a focal point but he doesn’t distract from the shapes around him, in fact he almost disappears when you start to look at the crisscrossing lines created by the stonework and shadows.

The addition of design elements takes the fractured glass look one step further to create a image of multifaceted shapes like those on a cut diamond or ancient pyramid like structures on the surface of a verdant alien world. Those are just two opinions of what this image is showing, viewers will come to their own conclusions when they see it because after all “beauty is in the eye of the beholder.”

Photography and design Jeff Kaster (Kudos Studio)

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