Roger Hicks con­sid­ers… Most pho­tog­ra­phers are ego­tis­ti­cal

‘A Brah­min Priest’, 2017, by San­dra Dubout

Amateur Photographer - - Final Analysis -

Of­ten, ‘less is more’ be­cause when we look at a pic­ture, our vi­sion is fil­tered through our own me­mories, prej­u­dices, pre­con­cep­tions and ex­pe­ri­ences. Your ap­pre­ci­a­tion of this pic­ture will there­fore de­pend on how much you know about India.

How­ever, the ex­hi­bi­tion of which this was part also tells you a great deal about India. The chaotic na­ture of the coun­try, with its crowds and colours, is su­perbly il­lus­trated in San­dra’s other pic­tures. In­ter­min­gled with them, though, are pic­tures like this – re­minders that the ap­par­ent chaos is made up of bil­lions of tiny and of­ten very still scenes. It’s just that they don’t al­ways re­late to one another in the way we might ex­pect if we were brought up in the West. Some­times, the re­la­tion­ships are much closer. Some­times they don’t ap­pear to ex­ist at all. In or­der to un­der­stand how clev­erly she com­bines ‘ less is more’ with ‘more is more’, you need to see a whole ex­hi­bi­tion, or at least to go to her site at www.face­book. com/san­dradubout­pho­tog­ra­phy. This prompted me to think about what we want or ex­pect from look­ing at pic­tures. Most pho­tog­ra­phers are, I be­lieve, ego­tis­ti­cal: one of the main rea­sons we look at oth­ers’ work is be­cause we want to learn to im­prove our own. This is not nec­es­sar­ily the same thing as want­ing to em­u­late them, though. San­dra uses far more sat­u­rated colours than I do, but I’d be a fool if I thought, ‘Ah! That’s what’s wrong with my pic­tures of India. They aren’t enough like San­dra’s.’ More use­ful is, ‘How are my pic­tures dif­fer­ent from San­dra’s? How can I make them more like what I want?’ This is very dif­fer­ent from, ‘How can I make them more like hers?’

It also re­minded me of another of my the­o­ries, which I call ‘os­mo­sis’ – the idea that look­ing at pic­tures in­fuses the soul, or mind, or heart, with an aware­ness of what makes a ‘good pic­ture’. We don’t al­ways need to an­a­lyse it. In­deed, we can­not al­ways an­a­lyse it. Here we can an­a­lyse the con­trasts in colour, shape and tex­ture; we can think about ‘ less’ and ‘more’, and sym­bols, and cul­ture (note the wrist cord), and even the form and fragility of pots. That’s all to the good. But os­mo­sis is to do with some­thing more, some­thing we ap­pre­ci­ate on a non-ver­bal, non-ra­tio­nal level: art, maybe. I learned a lot os­mot­i­cally from San­dra’s pic­tures.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.