Your Morning Cup of Pixels: Subject to Interpretation

For me, one of the joys of viewing a photograph is trying to mentally disassemble and reassemble the details of the shot, not only the technical details (setup and execution), but also the intent, story, and message. This is one of the reasons I no longer volunteer many details for my own work, instead forcing the photograph to stand on its own merits and be subject to interpretation. That way, the relationship between the print and the viewer is held in isolation from my own.

After all, a framed print on a wall might display a title and signature, but no other information is likely readily available. It’s a dynamic that I learned and embraced in creative writing through the process of literary criticism. Once that creative work is “finished” and released into the world, the creator’s intention and message is either received or it is not, and the success of the work may or may not depend on how successfully the creator executed his or her vision. In fact, an unexpected, unintended factor may carry the work to higher places.

In the current era of online photography, where exif data is usually readily available and photographers tend to share all the circumstances by which an image was born, it’s probably a gamble to withhold such details. But I’d rather let the photograph speak for itself, to create its own relationship with the viewer, independent from my input, which may just detract or distract from that relationship. On the occasion that a viewer shares with me his or her interpretation of one of my images, it’s also a chance to learn about details and considerations that I had not noticed.

I guess the moral of this story is that I’m usually going to leave the interpretation up to you, but if you would like to know some part of an image’s backstory, feel free to ask.

‘some regrets’

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