(nb: this wasn’t a question directed at me, but a post elsewhere that I’m responding to)
Yes your photos are pretty… they all are, without a doubt. But what do any of them actually mean? There aren’t any emotions… or any story or concept… and you can hardly call them fashion. So what’s left? Nothing. Just some beautiful people sitting in a field looking beautiful.
A while ago I was asked by a friend and art philosopher if I ever ‘expressed’ how I felt about certain things through the photos that I take. Instantly, I reacted in the negative – of course not! The idea that you have to first come up with a concept and then use images to explain it visually always made me cringe. Unless you’re extremely talented at such a task, the end product almost always comes across as very obvious and twee.
“She’s holding an arrow with a heart on it because she’s been dumped”
…and so forth. You know the sort.
However, whilst dwelling upon why exactly the types of portrait that I do most often have such a connection; why I feel such a craving and a desire and a need and an affinity for them, I realised that it was because of something to do with the way I think, believe and work.
Deeply, intimately; people are amazing, spectacular, complex creatures, and something inside my being somewhere resonates (and always has) with this.
It’s not something I can explain properly in words, and it’s not a ‘concept’ per se, but it’s definitely an expression of something that is profoundly and definitely about me. It might seem easy after the fact to force a conceptual idea upon a series of images, but the initial inspiration was definitely not something that was articulated in any kind of linguistic or conceptual form.
Just because something doesn’t have a defined, artistically-establishment-conforming, nicely worded and explained theory doesn’t mean that it is any less valid than one with pages of prose alongside it.
I’d argue infact that those pictures of beautiful people in fields looking beautiful are just as, if not more of an expression than a photo by someone who is trying to squash a literary concept into a different visual medium.
I think it was Edward Hopper who said something like:
“If I could say it in words there would be no reason to paint”
I’m not sure if that’s completely true, but I certainly don’t think that you need to first be able to rationalise your emotions in order to produce something expressive visually.