“I want the photo to stand on its own.”
“I want the viewer to make their own interpretation.”
There is an element to photography, that the photographer seems to forget – the emotional experience. When we take photographs, we have the emotional advantage of the experience itself. A photograph of a foggy harbor is not the same as standing in the chill of a foggy morning taking the photograph. Remembering how shortly after, cold and damp, we warmed up in a local restaurant with fresh squeezed orange juice and home made pancakes. The smell of the coffee. The joy of being warm again.
For us, that one photo evokes a flood of memories and smells. It triggers an emotional impact beyond the page.
It may trigger the viewer also and in ways we don’t expect, based on their life experiences. When that happens, when a single photograph can be viewed by hundreds of viewers and connect, we know that our work is “good”.
So why would we need to put a title on it? Why write an artist statement?
Titles and artist statement do not stop the photograph from standing on its own, they do not keep the viewer from their own interpretation. Titles and artist statements are a way to reveal the artist thoughts, to give another layer to the art, to impart an emotional interpretation, to guide the viewer to see how the photo fits into a complicated world, to highlight a possibly hidden aspect of the image.
A Title can open a conversation between the viewer and the artist. It is brief and potentially profound.
The artist statement is often a brief written description of the artist work in their own words. It can inform, connect, and present the basis for their work.
The artist uses this written extension of their work so the viewer can see the work as the artist sees the work. It can be didactic, descriptive or reflective in nature.
This month’s challenge is to create both a titles and an artist statement for a small collection of your work.