Photographers have a big outdoor culture. Most people interested in photography are usually also interested in outdoor activities, which they combine with photography, such as travelling, hiking, sports, nature, architecture, street photography and so on. No wonder that most photographers, and so most photographs we see around, are about registering experiences especially now with the social media self exposure.
Because of the fact photographs register the appearance of physical objects in the real world it was popularised by people wanting to register the tangibility of others they feel attached to and places to keep as memory, and so experiences that are related to such memories. But photography didn't influences people on such tangibility registration alone. The publicity industry took a huge opportunity offered by photography to use the image tangibility feeling and image experiences to induce people to feel, and so desire such objects, and experiences they see on images. Since publicity images are everywhere we go, including in our homes through screens. We are all very much influenced and have the vision adapted to the tangible publicity language.
Such publicity visual language is so influencing that most people, including most photographers, use such language as reference of photography quality, with a lot of people trying to learn and copy the publicity image technique, to copy such language, and present it as skilled photographers.
The lockdown and social distancing caused by Coronavirus brought many photographers to share their innovative, creative and tutorials on how to practice photography without leaving home, as if photography indoor is something unusual. After all, most photographers are after new places out there in the world and new experiences in such places, expecting to obtain the new, the unusual or simply the experience. The good photo are often associated on "how good" a place is or how good the experience suggests the object's appearance, its tangibility.
I feel the photography [visual] culture lost a lot along its materialist and technician path. Despite the artistic feeling of the activity it seems most photographers lost (or are lacking) the most artistic thing one can have: the abstract vision.
"What the greatest minds have ultimately sought from art is knowledge, a true and metaphysical knowledge, capable of reaching beyond the external appearance of phenomena in order to lead us to their intimate essence". - 'Seeing the Invisible on Kandinsky' by Michel Henry.
Many of the greatest photographers from the past didn't have to go beyond their yards to find endless inspiration. Helmut Newton said once he could always find the perfect location and inspirations just around the corner. Georgio Morandi spent years painting nothing but bottles on plain background. But how can one find so many inspirations and be so prolific in a single place or even with a single kind of object and subject? The answer is Abstract vision. While most people only could see endless bottles in Morandi paintings, he could see his hometown's rich landscapes.
When we look beyond object appearance and tangibility we discover a new and wide world. With my still photographs I photographed the human feelings and vices using only bottles, food, candles and masks; pretty much the very same objects for hundreds of photographs, working only with light and composition to create new scenes, narratives and feelings. The same with self portrait works I did in a single corner in my apartment, using the same few objects and my body composition to create hundreds of expressions in photographs.
It seems the photography culture needs to rediscover still art photographs and turn back to the abstraction vision so photographers can discover they don't need to go far in order to find inspiration, to be prolific and to enjoy the most of the activity. It starts by enjoying one's own vision first, before looking into the viewfinder to find out how things look like from the cameras' mechanical point of view.
The Power of Acting and Trust
Nothing would mean anything if I didn’t have a life of use to others, says Angelina Jolie.
Oliver Sacks said we are our internal self-narrative, the narrative we describe our experiences, the experiences of our acting and the experiences of our feelings. Without an internal self-narrative we have no identity, we don't know who we are.
We become ourselves through others who we interact with, who we share experiences, feelings and emotions. It means the self is always touched by the otherness, it's about finding or identifying the self in the other-self, according to Susan Sontag, who we recognize their features, mood, feelings, culture, believes and acting in ourselves. We can literally say that plurality is the law of the earth, without the other we are left with our thoughts and living solely in reflection creates insatiable desires, the endless pursuit to fill the emptiness (a biological unbalance) and feed a starved self-image, says Hannah Arendt. An urge to act because only through acting we can feel real and fulfilled. Experiences nurture our senses and through it is born the Self, says Fréderic Lordon who describes it as the economics of joy.
Empathy is the ability to put ourselves in others shoes so we become kind and honest to others as if we were doing it for ourselves, because we are feeling how it is to be in the other's position. This causes the brain to produce serotonin, that makes us have a well-being feeling. The same when someone is kind and honest to us, we have the empathy to put ourselves in their shoes and we understand they putting themselves in our shoes, allowing them to feel good in such expression towards us. For our brain it means we are socially understood and accepted. It is the cause of a socio-biological harmony because from others acceptance and understanding comes self-reassurance and self-acceptance. But we can also call it as love (Agape love to be more precise, the highest form of Christian love) that you can have towards friends, neighbors and even strangers. But if people feel alienated from each other in society it causes an opposite feeling and reaction called cynicism.
Empathy, social confidence and play are strong related, Play is embedded not only in humans but in all kind of animals; Fish, lizards, spiders, birds, they all play. It was found that play is part of evolution and as important as sleeping and eating according to scientist Stuart Brown. Animals that grow up playing have more social confidence and social intelligence, more empathy even towards other species, becoming less aggressive by showing less sign of violence and more relaxed. Some animals, such as rats, become depressed if hindered of playing. On the other hand, when growing up without playing animals and humans develop social anxiety.
Play is universal, part of every human being’s creativity and the source of a meaningful life. The capacity to add something of one’s own to the common world is the most elementary form of human creativity. If such capacity is destroyed, which can happens for many reasons such as economic isolation, social isolation or cultural isolation, isolation becomes all together unbearable, according to Arendt again.
Happiness is found on joy. We have joy on things that make us feel a biological and social harmony. The biggest joy one can have is to appreciate oneself as the cause of joy to others, which gives the person a grate power of acting and interaction (socially acceptance or the sense of belonging). Unfortunately, in our society, there is a big competition for that power through glamour, popularity, money, fame, status, etc; Things that causes the monopolization of joy, of the acting power, of social integration and harmony. Consequently, from such monopolization comes hate, blames, humiliation, envy, jealousy and further distress people causes to others, including exploitation of others or submission to others since being social is a biological necessity. Aloofness is the bureaucratic self images, or illusion, of a social power of belonging, as well as the power of being a gate-keeping of the social belonging.
Acting and playing means appearing. To appear involves confidence and risk, both that comes from trust. Trust we find where we identify ourselves with otherwise the other feels alien to us. When the otherness appears as alien to us we feel judged, excluded, hatred, cynic and not being able to act because of anxiety caused to such feelings, consequently not being able to become; Not being able to build an "I", said Alan Watts. The monopolization of joy through money, aloofness and even culture alienate people, the cause of feeling excluded from the socio-biological harmony.
The conclusion is that have fun is a serious matte. Through acting and playing we develop imagination which is important for us to gain a wider perspective of our reality, from our senses nurture , which means less alienated or less averse to different things and people.
So love people for let you express your empathy and let them express their empathy. Feel the serotonin effect together. Don't take life and people too serious but play and then let them go, move on. Be grateful for the moment experience you got and the nice memories they helped you stamp in your self-narrative. Be grateful to have an other person who accept you for such exchange for your socio-biological harmony, because it demands trust above all. If you have nobody to play with, make art.
At the end we are all the same only in different circumstances. Thank you for your trust on my act, that gives me a self-narrative about who I am and where I belong to, which without I would not be able to find my Self and there would be no “I”.
It's ok when the average public criticises or doesn't understand some photographs' meaning, but it's strange when those who were supposed to be aware about photographs or visual language miss the aesthetic meaning of good representation on nude.
"Is nude necessary?" a photographer asked. "I think you can make a photo appealing without the model being naked" he said.
There are many kinds of nude photographs. Some are made to be sexually appealing and some are not. It is actually much easier to make a woman sexually appealing wearing accessories and clothes that help to extol their body features than represent them purely naked who can only rely on poses and their actual body shape to extol their body features.
Everything in a visual representation has a meaning. Through a dressed model you can tell, or at least have an idea, about the epoch, taste, age, culture, social class and even personality of the person photographed or of who the photographer is trying to represent, just by the clothes. The same with the make up, location and gestures.
When you want to concentrate only on the body form, texture and expression everything else becomes a noise, or a distraction. Even colours, in many circumstances give meanings and become distracting when you want to concentrate on shapes and texture. This is why black and white images are often necessary as well as nude images.
I don't mean that works focused on body expression and shapes have to be nude. There are many ways of trying to do it with appropriate clothes. But with clothes it will not be possible to represent and appreciate the full and natural body shape and texture.
It also doesn't mean it has to be a full body frontal nude, because the frontal nude are often a distraction too, depending on the level of appreciation, theme and the way it is represented. It will be a distraction for those who are not used to it.
In other words, not all nude or even frontal nude representation mean to be erotic or pornographic. We can also be sure that there are a lot of erotic and even pornographic suggesting images everywhere we look at in our daily life through advertises on TV, magazines and billboards that apparently sell services and products but after all they actually sell life style, which also include idealised sexual attraction and sexual power. Often it is too explicit to be true, so we accept it or just ignore it.