Monday, August 26, 2013

Photographic Subject Matter - The Interior

   Since visiting the Shaker Village in Pleasant Hill, Kentucky I have been enraptured by the subtle light in their quiet, simple interiors.  The image on the left was made in the Center Dwelling there.  Interiors provide the photographer the opportunities of controlled light and subtle ways to reach the character of a place without the people.  This window could be anywhere but the addition of the starkly simple notched window prop says "Shaker" to me...the people without the people.

   I came across this interior just at the right time of day so that the light cast shadows in a lovely way and I was fortunate that there was this gauzy curtain to filter the harsh light and create the undulating folds.  For an interior scene to be contemplative, it must stir thoughts and reflections beyond the photographs basic elements.  If a photograph just says "pretty" or "pleasant" it is just an image of pretty and pleasant "things"...not a bad thing of course.  Just not a contemplative thing.

   Most of the time, these reflections or thoughts come long after the image is made when I practice Photo Lectio...a way to systematically read the image.  You can read about that here.  The most important part of the contemplative practice of photography is to still your mind and let the setting, whether it is inside or out, inform your work.  So much of the process becomes, in time, intuitive.  We become drawn to contemplative subject matter because it is what we most earnestly seek.



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