September 30, 2008

Do you see what I see ? by Mark Varley



" What does an image convey ?
What does it say ?
And who decides that ? " Mark Varley









" Beauty is in the eye of the beholder "
, so they say. " Art is in the eye of the beholder ", also true. Art is certainly subjective, never is it more obvious in the art vs porn debate. One mans art is another mans pornography.

So what does an image convey ? What does it say ? And who decides that ?



Limiting the subject to photography of people, there are three people involved in every photograph :




Mark Varley
"Hallway"
Art Model Zoe




You have the subject or " model " who is portraying or communicating something. Could be subtle or simple or it could be deep, complex and profound, but the subject of a photograph has, in that moment, the ability to convey all kinds of things.
= Ingredient 1.



The next person in the process is the photographer who is recording what he sees in the way he sees it (or the way he wants it to be seen). This can concentrate on or exploit any, all, or none of the ingredients from the model/subject, concentrating on anything as they see fit, as well as creating entirely unexpected aspects by the alchemy of lighting and composition.
= Ingredient 2.



The final person in the mix is the person viewing the photograph. What aspects of your life experiences or personality or even momentary mindset does this image communicate ? What does it say to you ? Where does it lead you ?
= Ingredient 3.



Mix well and bake for 14 minutes. Serve immediately.









Mark Varley
"God Given"
Art Model Kamilah









I love hearing what other people see in my images.


An amusing example of viewer interpretation I read recently in Banksy's book " Wall and piece " : " I'd been painting rats for 3 years before someone said " thats clever, 'rat' is an anagram of 'art '', and I had to pretend I'd known that all along".








Mark Varley
"Portrait"
Art Model Leila





The subject or " model " may think they know what they are putting into an image, conciously they convey something. Subconciously who knows what subtle ingredients are being brought in ?

The photographer may think they know what they are putting in, form a complex lighting layout to a compositional 'ooo thats pretty *click*' but there can be all kinds of subtle ingredients that at the time are not noticed, and may well not be noticed later. It takes a viewer with a particular viewpoint to spot something extra.

When I was shooting my last book, " London Bound ", I spent 6 months travelling around shooting bondage on-location, on-the-fly. I never knew what a location was going to bring until I got there, and the photos I got were 100% on-the-day making it up by the seat of my pants.






When I was compiling the book and going through all the shoots, I noticed a linier progression with very 'dark' content in earlier shoots and much more 'gentle' (is my bondage ever really gentle ?) towards the end.

This mapped a progressive improvement in my mindset and mood over those months that I had absolutely no idea was coming through in my work, ingredients I could not at all discern.








You never know what you are going to get when you push the button.
No matter how much you plan it, no matter how identical your setup.
Somehow, always, something of yourself comes through when you push the button, the more fluid the ingredients of the shot, the more of the 'self' is captured.



As for the viewer ? Thats up to you."






An article by Mark Varley ©










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