mining my old images

This shows an original, uncropped image, then two successive croppings to get closer and closer to the emotional message of the photo

12/31/20. That date is important, because if you take March 19th as the day the Coronavirus lockdown started, I had gone 296 days without being able to think about creating anything new. That’s important to chronicle now because memory fades. The pandemic was debilitating creatively. It was hard to form any thoughts, much less creative ones.

There was a glimmer of a thought that was going through my head…the idea of the emotions that I had captured in my photos. Often times I would get in the photos with my friends, and the expressions conveyed our feelings toward each other. Some even surprised me because they weren’t anything we talked about. But as I looked closely at the images I saw real emotions being conveyed.

How could I focus in on them to really highlight what was going on in the photo? Most were full length photos, because at the time I wasn’t thinking emotion. I shot them (on a sequential timer on my camera) very wide so that no matter what action took place, it would be in the camera frame. (Left image.)

I wasn’t sure how the image would hold up with such extreme cropping, but I went for it anyway. Many times the image was somewhat blurry. I resorted to one of my favorite tricks…actually ADDING grain to the image. Surprisingly it made the image seem clearer. I think because the mind fills in the gaps caused by the look of the grain, where if it was just the blurry photo, the mind only accepts that. This was my first attempt (center image) which I was happy with.

I then added another favorite layer of mine-words. Or in this case ONE WORD (in this case SPELL). I would cruise the thesaurus trying to isolate the emotion I saw in the picture. Some came easily. Others I was never quite happy with.

In all I did about 20 images in this way.

2/1/2020. I felt I needed to focus even tighter on the images. Like the sculptor who when asked how he know which pieces of marble to chisel off, he answered, “I just take away the pieces that didn’t look like the sculpture.”  I took the same tack and cropped in even tighter. To me the emotion was still conveyed, but even more directly. I did abandon the one word caption, and went to a phrase. It was usually something I felt the people in the scene would be saying or thinking. I did try to make them somewhat ambiguous, so that the viewer could take it to mean a variety of things, letting them craft a meaning for the image, even though I did guide on a path. (The far right image is the most recent iteration. It’s caption reads, “If you would just look at my face you would know my answer.)

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