Expressions in Conceptual Photography
Something I’ve thought about a lot lately is the expressions in conceptual photography. They’re very expressionless for the most part. There are a good few reasons for this. I feel like a lot of art can be interpreted in many different ways. People can feel multiple ways about an image, even without extreme facial expressions. Sure, some images can be more of an impact with apparent expressions. I like my work to be a bit misleading, though.
I’ve always thought of myself as a story-teller. As a child, I would write piano music, lyrics, poems, stories, etc. I did anything I could to try and tell a story and this went into my work as a photographer. I loved how all your words could be summed up visually into one solid image. Images can impact and audience in a few difference ways: Shock, face value, or depth.
Shock images are those images that are so hard to look at and most of the emotional influence is thrown right in your face. This would be extreme gore images, sexually explicit images, etc. Those are easy types of images to get an emotional response from. A lot of documentary images are like this, though. Their story is a shock because it’s real and confronting real emotions can be hard for anyone.
Images that have everything you need to know in the image and there is no wiggle room to create your own story within the image. I call these images “face value” images. It’s super personalized and can be harder for others to be able to connect with it. Of course you could always connect with it, there just isn’t much flexibility on the meaning.
Depth images are what I like my work to be at. These are images that at first seem like a pretty picture, but once you dive into the depth of the image… it’s so much more. Also, these kind of images give enough details for the story but not too many specifics to the point of not allowing viewers to make it their own. I like expressions to be fairly “Mona Lisa” in the sense that it could be an image of varying meaning and emotions.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely not comparing my work to the Mona Lisa – haha. I’m saying I like to use the technique of ambiguity.