At the outset of a project, we have some choices to make. What element, subjects, will be the focus of our attention? How do we plan to treat these elements? Are we going for some sort of realistic representation, or something abstract? Do we have some particular intention with respect to emotional or dramatic effect? An interesting art photograph of Harrisburg, PA photographer Shelley Neff speaks to some of these questions. There is little doubt that Shelley chose an interior waiting room, in this case the Harrisburg, PA Amtrak station, as the subject of her photo. There seems little doubt also, that she achieved a somewhat abstract depiction.
But just what was the thought process with respect to the ultimate result. Were choices made with the intention of achieving the abstract result or not? Of course we can’t know for sure unless we ask Shelley. One possible answer, though, is that our photographer was simply curious to see what was achieved by her choice of a closeup, tilted view over a bench. Sometimes it is enough to simply define our subject and elements, choose some approaches to working them which we find interesting, which we are curious about – and let the chips fall as they may. We can allow our work and our concept to form, to evolve, as we follow through on initial choices.
This approach may imply a certain lack of control over the final product. That may be true, and the approach may not be suitable in every case. If you are commissioned to do a realistic portrait, you don’t start messing with techniques about which you have little clue. But this approach lends to a great deal of learning, of growth, of broadening the creative pallet. Ultimately, you do have control and you do know what kind of results you can expect.
Lolita posted a docent note recently on Shelley’s “downtown train” photo. She speaks also of the photographer’s process, of choices. She goes on to discuss how the composer responded, in his music, to the effects Shelley achieved.