The Photograph as an Immersive Experience

This image of Jasmine, “Nesting” is one of my favorite images of mine. Yet, it is almost ignored by everyone.  I’m guessing that the reason for this is that the image is very dark and very easy to glance at quickly and pass over for a more eye-catching image. These days, the competition for our attention is fierce, and images that grab you easily will more likely get that attention. If you’re reading this, I have your attention and so does this photographic print!

What do I like about this image? When I create an image, whether eye-catching or not, I try to present a richness in subject (even if not a narrative subject), tones, texture, light and form.  I like the ethereal dark tones and light of this image. The darkness frames the main subject, which is Jasmine curled up in a beam of sunlight in the forest.  The trees and the horizon above her not only frame her compositionally, but with texture.  All of this is aided by the Kallitype process toned with gold, which also gives the image a rich woody color.

A soft focus lens was used for this image, and the Kallitype print adds to that softness.  Yet the details are there and remain sharp even with this treatment.  The roots of the trees emphasize the subjects roots to the forest. Finally, the rocks at the bottom remain a mystery by being barely visible or identifiable, but provide a base upon which the image sits.  Of course, none of this would have been possible without the lovely location, Jasmine or Sol!

So, while easy to glance at and pass by, this image offers the opportunity for immersion, revealing hidden details and allowing the viewer to compose their own story for the picture.

What do you think?

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This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. steven aimone

    A splendid image, for all the reasons you cite, and more. And I love the title of the critique, “The Photograph as an Immersive Experience.” In order to experience and image like this it requires the viewer to be still, silent, so they can “be” with the image. Nothing quick or flashy about that!

    1. David A

      That’s one of the reasons I think prints are so important today for photography. Everything, including still images, whiz by you on your screen, but a print isn’t going anywhere. It’s kind of not even there until you look at it, in a way.

  2. Tim Gottshall

    I’ve been intending to write an “opinion piece” centered around an article and video I saw on PetaPixel (a daily photo magazine, of sorts) a few day ago that speaks to the issue of the immediacy of images in this new cyber world. But I know I won’t get around to doing an actual op ed, so I’ll offer just this.
    The PetaPixel article and video was a simplistic how-to piece about making one’s portraiture better by paying attention to the catchlights in the model’s eyes. The presenter clued me in to a neologism I hadn’t run across before: “scroll stopper”. To me it was immediately a loathsome expression, akin to “page-turner” and “click bait”.
    What the dude was offering was advice on how to make photos that would grab a viewer’s attention as she/he scrolled through Instagram, or the like, at the usual attention-span-of-a-gnat speed. And apparently that’s what photography is all about to some (if not most) kids these days. And some adults, too. Full disclosure – I scroll through my Instagram feed at least once a day at a pretty fast clip, only pausing when I coma across an arresting image or a post by someone I know or whose work I admire. But I don’t equate that with fine art photography at all, not the kind of photography that manifests in an actual print on actual paper (someone recently reminded me that one of the root words of “photography” is “graphis”, or “graphikos” in the original Greek, meaning writing and drawing, with the implication that there’s paper involved. Or anything on which a word or image can be preserved.) The idea behind the PetaPixel article/video runs entirely counter to the idea of a photograph as a material object, one that can be shared – in the antiquated sense of the word – from one hand to another.
    And that’s where my opinion intersects with your subtle and mysterious Kallitype. I like it a lot because I have to take the time to really LOOK at it to appreciate what’s in it. I’d love to see it “in the flesh”, so to speak.
    I’m always impressed with the visitors, few in number, who take the time to really see the photos on the wall, to spend a little time with them. Maybe not all of them, but at least the images those folks are drawn to.
    Well, that’s more than I’d intended to write. Here’s a link to the PetaPixel article: https://petapixel.com/2019/03/25/create-interesting-catchlights-for-eye-catching-portraits/. For my part, if I never hear the term “scroll-stopper” again I’ll be joyous, but I’m sure I’ll hear or read it again – probably often. Have to learn how to kill the gag reflex.

    1. David A

      Timo,

      Like you, I “scroll” through pictures a lot on IG and Flickr, but I also believe that while there are elements that will catch the eye and be a “scroll stopper”, they might vary for different viewers. What catches my eye after pre-screening might be very different than what might catch your eye.

      Same with music. Like a musical “hook”. While some may be catchy and somewhat universal, mileage may vary for the individual. Some are happy with a simple “hook”. Others thrive on layers and depth to explore.

      Layers and depth in one single still image. As a print even! What an old-school concept!

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