The Public

April 7, 2011 § 3 Comments

I think that one of my greatest disappointments in the public consumption and interpretation of photographic imagery is the need for obvious cues… People seem to struggle against an instinctive response to imagery and feel the need to temper it with academic or approved jargony justifications about why they are engaged with a photograph.

If the expected response is not obvious, people get confused. And when confused in the face of “art”, people get nervous and subsequently insecure.

I would ask that people stop assessing their own opinions so much. If you do not intend to write a paper about it, or apply for a job as an art historian, I would ask that you feel your way through the photograph/s instead. Do not look around for consensus, try not to plumb the depths of all the standard imagery you’ve been fed via stock archives and just feel your way through. If you have questions, by all means ask. Sometimes if it feels good, it is. Simple. Sometimes your instinct will respond to an image that you will cerebrally reject – and it’s not because your mind isn’t capable of distinguishing good from bad, but that it merely hasn’t learnt the deconstructive vocabulary necessary to back up your instinctive response.

Are you moved? Are you compelled? Are you considering something that you’ve never really taken the time to consider before? Are you seeing something familiar in a completely different light? Are you seeing a nuance that you’ve always felt but never seen articulated before visually?

I am asked frequently, “what makes a good photograph?”

My answer is, “if you answer yes to any of the above.”

Most importantly, really look before you dismiss anything and if the obvious cue doesn’t leap out at you, look longer because often if you find what is hidden beneath your expectations,  you will discover that it is well worth finding.


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