9. Looking at, responding to and talking about photographs

One of the things that struck me quite forcefully about this week’s artciles and presentations was the ratio of photographs I see to photographs I remember. I must see hundreds of photographs, scrolling through socila media and photographic sites, yet I would be hard pushed to remember any of them. Over the last few days, the only photographs I now remember were the ones in the articles and presentations here, and that is because the context forced me to think about them – to appreciate them cognitively as well as aesthetically. In some cases, I was presented with photographs that I might otherwise have simply scrolled past – it was only the fact that they were included as part of the course that made me pause and ask myself why they were considered important. In the case of the Ori Gersht photos, I went from bafflement to engagement with the pure aesthetic response to them, to appreciation when the context was introduced. This was a photographic skill I had never previously considered, particularly not in my own practice – the creation of a mood – in this case melancholic otherworldliness that is then heightened when the context is made clear. I found this idea incredibly exciting and it is something I really want to explore further in my own practice.

I must admit that my own practice is currently not mindful enough to take on the concern of balancing the emotive and the aesthetic – at least not at the stage I am initially making the photograph. As a travel photographer, I tend to walk and photograph and walk and photograph and so on. I think such concerns come into play at the stage I am processing the photographs and has (at least up until now) been a largely instinctual process.

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