Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Foregrounding the observer

How much time do we spend as spectators? We watch sports, movies, television, people... Photographers have to cultivate the art of observation. If any photo is an expression of how the photographer sees the world, then what does a photo of an observer express?

The photo above was taken at a shoot in Paris. In my opinion, the stylist was a lot more interesting than the model herself. Seen from behind, the stylist's body language grabs our attention but leaves the interpretation to us—observers of the observer.

Why does this image appeal to me? Perhaps because I spend so much time observing others. I have no strong opinions about what the onlooker here is thinking. Is she envious? detached? judgmental? bored? I change my opinion each time I look at the photo. I think that the ambiguity pleases me because it reminds me that the eye of the beholder so important.

What about you? How much time do you spend people-watching? How could you foreground observation in a photo? Maybe at a sporting event, a protest, a museum, a park...? Something to think about for the monthly special. Let's see some of your own reflections on foreground/background. I love the photo that Ilan posted, but I am sure that there are others out there with some work to share.


Anonymous said...

I just discovered your blog, I'm not sure how I even found it. Perhaps searching for street photography. It's interesting, informative and inspirational. Well done. I'm reading/skimming through everything now. The photo above is really great, I look forward to seeing more.

marc said...

@jdaldous—Thanks for your nice comment. I love to hear from people who read the blog and hope you'll keep coming back.

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