Thursday, May 31, 2012

Snapshot, Picture, Image?

Out on location recently and in my attempts to create art I kept having an internal conversation with myself regarding the output of my efforts.  This led me to toss around terminology that is typically used as interchangeable, but is it really?  I'm talking about the difference between the terms of snapshot, picture, and image.

For me snapshot infers a documented record of a scene; a literal record of time and place, a moment in time to cherish as a memory.  It brings to mind for me at least, a "Kodak moment" that was typically found in photo albums with the paper corners holding the snapshots in place.  Or oftentimes the glue had aged to a point where the snapshots fell out of the album as you gingerly turned the pages.  Snapshots typically documented treasured family moments; birthdays, holidays, and vacations to name just a few of the normal events captured.  Snapshots typically consist of either candid approaches or orchestrated gatherings by getting everyone in the picture to smile and "say cheese".  In today's terms it's the volume of what is found on flickr, Facebook and other digital media formats where the digital photo equipment promotes an unlimited quantity within seconds and sites permit global sharing.

This brings me to the next level, pictures.  Again this is my interpretation but I think pictures represent a level above snapshots.  Pictures seem to be a straight, literal shot of "just another pretty picture" of a scene typically of nature, landscapes or some portraits.  There is an aesthetic value but no emotional connection is established with the viewer.  There seem to be an abundance of tasteful and even masterful pictures of sunsets, starry skies, water, etc.  But again, it may make one stop and look for a moment of bliss but the viewer is not emotionally engaged and quickly moves on to look for the next pretty picture. There is an absence of artistic intent and composition that quickly renders the picture as a "drive-by" unworthy of more devoted time by the viewer.  In the realm of our visual world I think the majority of visual stimuli would be considered pictures.

Onto the next level of images.  I can clearly differentiate between snapshot and pictures, but images takes it above and beyond where we're getting into more esoteric ground.  Subject matter is endless and interpretation is only limited by the artist's creative potential and conceptualization.   I think images are elevated to a level of art by an emotional connection with the viewer as predetermined and created by the artist.  The image transcends a literal translation and can often deal in abstraction by extracting the literal context. It doesn't have to be an abstract, although this clearly makes the point.  Images have artistic intent, purposeful composition using design elements to convey a message, and makes an emotional connection, an engagement that lingers long after viewing the image at first glance.

After ruminating about the terms of snapshot, picture and image I can clearly see they are not interchangeable terms.  It's not a question of one being better than another.  The underlying theme is that they are distinct in their approach, audience, purpose, technique, equipment, and outcome.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ellipsoid... A New Gallery On My Website

I just added another new gallery on my website,  This one is called, Ellipsoid and is a very abstract composition of circles and spheres.  It was taken in Ann Arbor at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens when they had erected a dome-like, igloo-shaped structure made of aluminum cones.  As soon as I saw the structure I knew it would make a fantastic abstract of random dancing patterns of light and metal scattered about on multiple planes.

Go to my website .  Access the new gallery, Ellipsoid from my home page.  Either click on the featured gallery Ellipsoid at the bottom, OR the top menu button of Gallery.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Another AWARD: International Awards Announcement...WIPI

I'm proud to announce I've just been awarded two Honorable Mentions in the Women in Photography International (WIPI) 2012 Competition.  The two images, Wavelength and Quiver, were chosen by jurors Susan Spiritus of the Susan Spiritus Gallery and Jean Ferro, Photo Artist and President of WIPI.  This WIPI Awards of Honorable Mention breaks new territory for my work, gaining an international audience and global exposure.

Go to WIPI's website link ...

My two images, Wavelength and Quiver are on PAGE 3.  Access Page 3 by scrolling to the bottom of the Top Ten images.  Also check out my WIPI Professional Profile on WIPI PP underneath the images. 

Pass this great news along to your friends and colleagues in your daily conversations or social media. Thanks again for your continued patronage throughout the years.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Image of the Month: May

Art is a hard concept to define clearly.  What makes something art?  Does it have to be beautiful or visually pleasing?  Do all photographs have to be "picture perfect"?  What separates art from the mundane nature of daily life?  Can an object or experience I encounter in my daily life and mundane environment be classified as art even if it's "not pretty"?

Enough with the questions already, I think you get the gist of where I'm going.  I know the medium of photography is typically viewed on a linear spectrum of documentary on one end, and the polar opposite being the interpretative, with a variety of storytelling narratives in between.  So I think the expectation is if one is not doing documentary work, or real, unaltered imagery, then the opposite should be visually pleasing and artistic. To that end I challenge that general assumption and believe one can capture images not typically considered "pretty" and create a beautiful interpretation.

Case in point.  If you're familiar with my work you know I'm not globetrotting around the world capturing glamourous images of lush, magical landscapes, or inviting ethereal spaces of remote locations.  Rather, my scope is typically more limited in distance.  So every so often when not out shooting locally or spots around the USA, I like to challenge my eye to see with more creative intent; a good exercise in fine tuning visual acuity.  So sometime this past winter I challenged myself to stay inside my house for my photo assignment and only capture images out of daily, mundane objects and transforming them into artistic, beautiful images.  This again, without re-arranging objects surrounding me, or going to the extent of building artificial studio scenes.

© 2012, Joanne Scherf
At first glance, this may appear as an imaginative image, specifically one that creates a new world in the viewer's imagination, or is considered "unreal".  However upon closer inspection it might be more apparent that this creation is just a normal, average, everyday element in one's home.  One without any re-arrangment, but rather something we walk by in our homes on a regular basis.  A flower vase of nearly dead flowers, (daffodils) ready to be pitched into the compost pile.  What's different is the view (aerial rather than the typical frontal plane), approach (soft focus that blurs the edges), and juxtaposition of primary elements (bright, colorful flowers with the background of the monochromatic black and white chess board squares).  So while limited to the confines of the interior of my home, without any re-arrangement of artifacts, I was able to translate this simple scene into a "work of art" by a creative approach.  What first attracted me to this potential image was just the bright colors, then the unusual play of the colors upon the graphic element of the black & white chess table background.  I was particularly intrigued with making "dead" flowers look beautiful beyond the inherent limitations of cut flowers life span.

My overall message is that even with limitations of location, or abundance of mundane artifacts of daily life surrounding you, one really can improve visual acuity and actually see beauty out of normalcy without ever leaving home or taking flight.  It just takes practice, patience, imagination, and the ability to really see your immediate world as something other than.