Your Place In The Art Of Photography

Two girls step gingerly into the waters of the Hooghly River in Kolkata, India. Version One.

Here’s what I’d refer to as a pretty grungy, somewhat surreal scene. The image was made from the banks of the Hooghly River in Kolkata, India. I find it to be a mysterious image that encourages interpretation and invention.

In other words, there is more than one story here.

There's the story that actually occurred and the many ways in which you might be able to interpret the event into new possibilities, new suggestions and new conclusions. 

Build Your Photos Around Great Composition

The success of this image is underpinned by composition and timing.

The piece of floating debris in the top centre of the image would be, to most folks, unsightly and a distraction. Most likely they’d try to remove it from the photo through retouching.

I think that's a totally reasonable conclusion and, as you can see, that's precisely what I've done in the second version of the image displayed a little further down this post.

While the rubbish would be considered by many folks to be illustrating pollution, I initially thought of it as an important element in the triangular composition formed between it, the two girls and the three birds.

One, two and three, that’s how this image moves your eye around the frame.

Each of those compositional elements leads the eye onto the other providing balance and a sense of harmony in what might otherwise seem like a pretty spooky image. This kind of duality fascinates me.

Hindu Mural, Madras Kali Bari Temple, Chennai

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There are actually four birds, but I think that our first impression would be that they seem to form a group of three.

The burgundy red and magenta colors in the girls clothing adds some visual snap to what would otherwise be a very monochromatic image.

I get the impression that, if the girls were to venture too far out into the water, that the color in their clothing would run and be engulfed by the underlying monochromatic color palette of the scene.

Two girls step gingerly into the waters of the Hooghly River in Kolkata, India. This is Version Two with the bottle towards the top of the frame removed.

The Value Of Re-Visiting Certain Photos

I came back to this image recently and decided to process a version with the bottle removed. I'm glad I did as I much prefer it that way. It's cleaner and, I think more positive.

The image is surreal enough with the girls stepping into the water and those (I think) crows nearby.

I always felt this was an image that explored the notion of transition and, in retrospect, leaving the bottle in brought us back to more earthly concerns and, as a consequence, reduced the power of the image which, to me, is spiritual in nature.  

The Value Of Metaphor And Meaning In Art

The metaphor I draw from this image is that the girls risk losing their individuality as they are made to conform into the greater collective, much like what happens to those living under the yoke of a totalitarian regime.

It’s hard to deny how the dense blackness of the birds suggests an ominous event is about to take place. Notice how the blackness of the birds is mirrored, in part, in the girls hair and clothing.

This might suggest, to some, that their demise has already begun.

Buddha at Sunset, Chennai, India

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The Challenge For The Armchair Traveller

What you see in such a photo is going to depend upon how long you look at it and how open you are to interpreting it.

It’s not so much about being right all wrong, it’s about allowing your imagination to take you on a journey from the comfort of your home or workplace into worlds beyond your normal everyday experience.

I'm referring here to landscapes of the mind.

What Is Fine Art Photography To You?

Welcome to the world of Fine Art Photography, which is less about what you see in front of you, both as the photographer and as the viewer of other people photos, and more about how you feel about what you see and what imaginings, realizations and revelations will follow.

There’s no coincidence that the subtitle for my eBook, Photographing Cemeteries, is Transience, Transmission and Transformation.

Your Photos Explore Our Place In This World 

I’m a travel photographer and travel photography is very much a journey into lives, places and landscapes beyond our normal everyday experience.

Photography allows us to experience, record and share those revelations with a larger audience. It's the power of photography in our contemporary world.

Would you like to be a part of this grand endeavor? Keep checking back here for regular posts, great photos and information on upcoming workshops and tours.

And do make sure you follow me on one of the social media icons listed on the side of this page.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru