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About Perception (Part 1)

Recent events in my private life had me reflect on the power of perception in general, and – of course – within the real of photography specifically.

The camera never lies…

Ha! That is, of course, complete nonsense. Forget about photography for a second! How each of us experiences the world is, of course, at the very core if it subjective. Neither one of us sees and experiences the world exactly as another person does.
The camera is a story telling device that will tell any truth or lie we ask of it. Think about movies, ad campaigns, think about years of political propaganda.

Truly Seeing The World

The camera, if used properly, helps us to truly immerse ourselves in the world. To truly …. SEE! The camera is limited. By the frame. By technical limitations. The human eye, so much more powerful and sophisticated, taken for granted and we rarely think about it and how it perceived the world around it, until we try and replicate what we see with a dumb, electro-mechanical device, that excludes large parts of the visual field we see with the human eye. That distorts. Gets thrown off.
It are all these limitation we as photographers use to tell a story. Our story. We point more powerfully to certain aspects within a scene. We bend light. Me wrestle it in submission.  We exclude elements in the scene be cause we(!) deem them unimportant. We tell you all about it without using a single word.
The person looking at our photographs – ideally – builds a connection with our story. Interprets. Changes, projects their own opinion, taste and experience, and you create……. magic….. something beautiful….

It’s Hard Work

This requires, of course, a conscious effort on the side of the photographer. We need to think about our scene. Our frame. Point-and-shoot is not storytelling. It’s rambling. Incohesive babbling of an infant. As photographers, we have to be aware what story we are telling. Covering a wedding, we are telling a story. But we are telling a story. I barf when I hear a bride ask me “do you follow the ‘photojournalistic’ style of wedding photography”??? REALLY? Heck NO! Do you want your story to be told like a news cast? “At 2:32pm PST, Alice and Bob said their vows in front of 152 people, 13% of which were out of towers”. Or do you want your story to be told by a skilful story teller. Someone, who uses beautiful words of love, color, beauty. Emotions. Then, you will have to realize that I will tell your story through my eyes. Through my perception, my interpretation.
Do You Like My Story
So, when you hire me, the question becomes: Do you like the way I tell stories… Do you like my language… Do you like the way I see you. Do you want your story to be told…. by me.

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