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|Dave Hogan||Photo: Cynthia Hogan|
In college, I remember being told that photography was "painting on film with light". Just as a sculptor will manipulate a medium or a painter will use different brushes to apply paint to a canvas, so will a photographer use lenses, aperture size, exposure time, and film speed/resolution to achieve a result. Sometimes we are painting with light on a CCD* rather than film, but the point remains that photography is unique in that it can be as much a technical documentation of reality or an abstract representation of emotion as one desires.
For me, a photographic image is an attempt to share a personal experience. Although sometimes I lean towards documenting something from my perspective, I usually try to convey an emotion that I felt via a two-dimensional image. Sometimes this takes the form of a wide-angle image that captures an entire scene. Sometimes, it's a macro close-up of some minute detail that caught my attention. Other times I'm fascinated by some spontaneously occurring symmetry or juxtaposition. I almost never stage a scene to photograph.
When someone looks at one of my photographs and indicates that they are experiencing the same feelings I did when creating the image, I feel that I have succeeded. However, it's also satisfying when someone sees something in the image that I did not see. It can be something that I overlooked, or the observer may be seeing a new reality created by my manipulation of light. All photographs are documents of reality, but the nature of that reality is up to the observer to determine. It's interesting to unintentionally create a reality that I may never have been aware of, but for the fact that someone shared their impression with me. "Painting with light" not only provides a nonverbal form of communication, but can create an endless hall of mirrors as each observer finds their own realities in an image.
*CCD stands for charge-coupled device. It's the chip in the camera that converts the incoming photons into electron charges. These electron charges are then transferred to the storage device as a digital image.
NEW PROJECT Rambling Man by Dave Hogan