Let the Eye Discover

Slow smile for you - original

Slow smile for you - original

Slow Smile For you - White gum on black, light distress

Slow Smile For you - White gum on black, light distress

Slow Smile for you - white gum on black, heavy distress

Slow Smile for you - white gum on black, heavy distress

I come from a family of writers and one of the many things that I learnt from them is: don’t just tell your readers things, let them discover things for themselves. It makes it more personal and so more meaningful to them.

It is quite true, no good piece of writing states people's reactions or the detailed meaning of that characters' actions - you have to see and understand them for yourself.

In that discovery, in that moment, what you find is your own - and it is bound up in those feelings that are yours and what they mean to you.

I have always wanted to carry that into my photography - and I do it in a number of ways. Such as through a metaphor (discussed elsewhere). Here, though I want to bring out how I add tension and discovery through getting the eye of the viewer to work out what's there. A good example is of the three versions of 'A Slow Smile for You' - you can see that the eye needs to work harder each time to get what the picture is.

 
 
a Knowing Smile (Edged)

a Knowing Smile (Edged)

 

That eye journey, once completed, gives the viewer that same sense of discovery. They see the image and its subject in their own way. It then resonates more with their own lives and thoughts.

I do this in two ways:

First, I deliberately use techniques that break up the image in some way - often by adding brush strokes or gaps in the areas of prepared paper. I do like breaks in the image - down to white paper or just an abstract pattern, which you can see in 'A Knowing Smile (Edged).'

Head, smile and Neck - Original

Head, smile and Neck - Original

HEad, Smile and Neck - Cropped and Printed

HEad, Smile and Neck - Cropped and Printed

Second, is to choose subjects that the human eye is able to pull out of all that noise and grunge. At the moment I tend to choose faces (or parts of faces, like eyes or smiles) or everyday objects.

In the two versions of 'Head, Smile and Neck', you can see I have cropped the image hard and love the extra brushstrokes across her face.

 
Open, Radiant Smile - Mother and Daughter (orginal)

Open, Radiant Smile - Mother and Daughter (orginal)

 
Open, Radiant Smile - Brushed

Open, Radiant Smile - Brushed

You can see in the two versions of 'Open. Radiant Smile' that I have chosen not only to crop the image tightly, I have deliberately stopped the brushstrokes within the boundary of the face - the missing parts are easily filled in be the eye.

Getting the eye to work at understanding, I feel adds to that discovery and the sense of having your own emotional journey.

After all, is that not what art is all about?