Saturday, April 23, 2016

The Narrative


Over the years I have become aware that to many people the narrative surrounding an image may be as important as the image itself.  The image is considered a mere touchstone to the life experience of the artist creating the image.

I have a different criterion since I consider an image from the perspective of how it will look on my walls.  The experience of the artist may be interesting but it is not critical to my enjoyment.  I don’t care that Ansel hopped up on top of his car, didn’t have a light meter but he knew how may foot-candles the moon had, and exposed Moonrise.  Good for him but I liked the image before I knew that about how he shot it.  It’s not irrelevant but it’s not important to my enjoyment of Moonrise.

I recently attended a program on the history of the National Gallery of Art.  What struck me the most was that the benefactors, who gave a lot of art to the nation, had previously used that art to decorate their houses.  They had not selected the art to create a gallery; they were decorating their living spaces.  In fact, the restorers had to clean the smoke residue off one Van Gogh because it had been hung over the mantle of a fireplace.

When I consider my life story, the narrative does not seem exceptional.  I have lived an extremely ordinary life.  The images are not the result of a mission or exceptional circumstances.  Most of the images have either come to me or I’ve put myself in a place of extraordinary beauty where they have been easy to find.  The recent flower images are possibly an exception, but they are beautiful, easy to do, don’t take a lot of time, and provide me something I can work on in the studio.  Hard to build a narrative that anyone would care about out of that.

All that said, I really enjoy photography and hope to continue doing it for a long time, even if mine doesn’t have a great narrative surrounding it.  One of the great things about being a photographer is that you can capture the beauty you see, to enjoy again and to share with others.

1 comment:

  1. When I look at a work of art what matters to me is how it impacts me, not what the background and narrative are. Those become important to me if my purpose is to know more about the history, socioeconomic conditions of the era and if the art enhances my understanding of that. But, I love art, and first and foremost, do I like what I see, does it impact me?
    The current spectacular exhibition of Lautrec at the Phillips is an example. I love the work. His peculiar background is icing, it is an embellishment to the pleasure that I get from his work. But, if I knew nothing about the Moulin Rouge, and nothing about Lautrec, I would still be greatly drawn to his work. No amount of blather compensates for mediocre art.