the performative aspect of photography

Photography is more than a photo. When we look at a picture we don’t see how it is done. Often we have to guess what the creative process was that led to the image.

Some may call this a performance. For me it is more a dialog, a conversation. What I aspire with my pictures is to keep the dialog going in the mind of the viewer. That my pictures raises these questions: Where does it come from? Where is it going? And what is happening right now?

You can view the process as an performance – how the photographer interacts with the subject:

  • The landscape photographer puts up the tripod and waits for the right moment when the sun light is perfect
  • the street photographer dances around to find the right angle and composition
  • the portrait photographer sets up the light and directs the subject how to pose

I find this interpretation of the photographic process irritating – a performance means that there is someone who is watching the process. Sure, I love to watch other photographers doing their work, but more often nobody notices when somebody takes a picture.

For me taking pictures is more like a dialog.

A scene speaks to me and I answer to it by pressing the shutter and take a picture. I love it when the dialog continues in the mind of the viewer. When the captured scene rises questions:

  • Where does it come from?
  • Where is it going?
  • What is happening right now?

That’s what I aim for – visual story telling.

Before I can do that I need to prepare myself and do the inner work – I make myself ready to take pictures today. I get into a state of calm and open awareness so that I can notice the fine signals and vibes.

In my creative process I like surprises: Even if I work with models or actors – I have created a mood-board and set up a theme and a story to communicate my ideas – when it comes to the shooting itself, I don’t have an image in mind that I want to create. I am more like a blank canvas.

All of this needs practice: Practice to understand the effect of lighting, colour and composition – to see the world through the lens of a camera.