Sunday, September 6, 2009

Don't Tell Me What You Think, Tell Me What You Feel

I just sent this picture to my good friend and former RIT professor, Dr. Dick Zakia, who is updating his book, Perception and Imaging – Photography, A New Way of Seeing. I asked Dick why he likes this picture. His response, I feel, can benefit all of us. Here goes.

Dear Rick:

I am reminded of a comment my friend Ralph Steiner would often make when critiquing work, "Don't tell me what you think. Tell me what your FEEL."

What I feel is paramount and it is a deep haunting feeling, a mysterious questioning as to what is going on. Who are these people who are deep in thought,what are they thinking? Your photograph is both haunting and mysterious.

At another level, I like the colors, the dress,the masks, the black hands, jewelry – everything works together to convey mystery and questioning. And the aging background certainly adds to the strangeness and ambiguity. Then, of course, there is the symbolism of the mask.

In a word again, it haunts me. It is also a good gestalt in that you need not add or take anything away from the photo to improve it. It is!

The story behind the picture. I was participating in a workshop in Venice during Carnavale and noticed these people standing in a square. I asked them to move against the wall and posed them in the manner you see here.

A good exercise: try to convey a feeling in a photograph.

Explore the Light,

1 comment:

bobwyo said...


Thanks for 'revealing' the key to great photography. It's clearly a challenge to record feeling when photographing people or animals, but we need to put emotion in landscapes as well to make them memorable (think of the sense of awe in Ansel's 'scapes or the wonder in Paul Caponigro's).

The challenge? Making a pile of rocks 'feel' something!

Looks like you've opened a whole series of posts for the blog!