What do you see?

Somebody commented on this photo that they wished they could see the bigger picture like a photographer does. Not just what is in front of them, but the picture that lies behind it.

I don’t think I am necessarily good at this, indeed I imagine I miss the big picture more often than I see it; but I understand what they mean. One way to develop this ability to be open to images and pictures, I believe, is to carry your camera with you all the time. This, however, is something I don’t always do. The number of times I see something and think ‘I wish I brought my camera with me’ is shocking!

It does however open possibilities. I love pictures that do tell stories. I took this image a couple of days ago at a Loch (Scots word for a lake) near my home. It was a bitterly cold evening and had been pretty dreich (great Scottish word for grey and overcast) day; but we were rewarded with a clear evening. I fired off a few shots, but nothing noteworthy. It was now about 8 in the evening and I was thinking about going home and defrosting. I walked around the path of the shore, when I came across several daffodils somebody had picked and carefully laid down by the water’s edge.

Why do this? Who did this? What does it mean? My mind doesnt need any encouragement to run riot but I wanted to know what the story was behind this? The way they seemingly had been carefully arranged and the way they were left seemed too delibreate. Someone, it occured to me, had taken the time to do this. Was it a tribute to someone? Maybe it was a coded message between spies!

Oleg, when you see the daffodils in a line on the shore, it means the drop off for the top secret nuclear plans will happen tonight.’

I told you my brain needs no encouragement to run riot!. Assuming I haven’t stumbled into some sort of Le Carre inspired spy drama what does this mean?

I don’t know, but then again it is probably more important to to ask the questions than gain the answers. It may be of course, it isn’t deliberate at all, a random event and I am reading too much into it.

Photography should prompt questions and not necessarily provide answers. On an aesthetic level the flowers add something for the picture, creating a new focal point before the viewers eyes are drawn across the Loch.

It is however the atmosphere, the hint of mystery the daffodils really add that does it for me. Maybe it is just me, maybe folk just see some flowers, a sunset and a body of water. Looking at it however makes me want to know more.

And I think perhaps it is that sense of wondering and ability to begin a story in the viewers imagination that is the greatest thing a photographer can create. Sure Photographs can capture reality and make things crystal clear, yet neither is is true to say the camera never lies. A degree of ambiguity, mystery or intrigue can draw people in. Photographers like Cartier Bresson were masters at this, often taking the ordinary, workaday and turning them into stories that invite the viewer to unravel.

So, perhaps Oleg is waiting for Sergi to drop the nuclear plans off now the daffs have been arranged, and North Lanarkshire is a melting pot for espionage and double dealing. Stranger things have happened before. Who knows?

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