13 November 2014
So, writing my morning pages today, as per Julia Cameron in The Artist's Way, I got to thinking about some photographs I took earlier this week of the beautiful and talented Lewis Barfoot (above) and of how a lot of the shots show her with her eyes closed. Why? Well, in part because when she reached the emotional peaks of her songs she closed her eyes and I took the peak as a cue to take a photo - I wanted to show that she puts her all into her music. But why do humans do that - why do we close our eyes when we hug someone for example? To amplify the moment - we don't want distractions, we want to really feel that emotion, we want to maximise the potential of the emotion, the feeling of joy or connection. So why close them, our eyes, when we are sad or melancholy, as Lewis clearly was at times during her show? Because it isn't entirely voluntary, it isn't always about consciously wanting something - another aspect of the act of closing them reflects the fact that we are overwhelmed by what we are feeling and cannot cope with any additional stimulation, we are "full" and need to take a moment, as parlance has it. But why so many photographs of closed eyes then Patrick? Why, in the case of Lewis, didn't I wait until she opened them again? In part I think because to press the shutter at the moment of Peak Emotion is a natural response - I think it was Picasso who said something about the artist needing a shard of ice in the heart so as to remain detached from the moment and I'm still missing that shard so my unconscious response was to think "here's the peak - capture it". And maybe part of capturing the peak is also me "closing my eyes" (the shutter) in response to the emotion on display.
All of which is a long-winded way of saying that:
(a) I don't want to get hardened to the point that I don't emotionally respond to a song or a play because I put photography first the whole time - I don't think this will ever happen but perhaps it is as well to be aware of it;
(b) men, geeky, on-the-spectrum, men, tend to dominate photography to a greater degree than perhaps they dominate most other professions - it may in part be connected to a greater ability to separate themselves (ourselves?) from their emotional response to situations, or to put that emotional response to another use - "ooh, I'm about to close my eyes and respond emotionally to this event - I should take a photo instead";
(c) photography is hard to get right - I like to think capturing emotion is a trope of my photographs of people (and sometimes landscapes), but there is more to a successful shoot than that; not a lot more, but more nonetheless.