When I was at the beginning of my art college course I received a reading list which included John Berger’s Ways of Seeing. I remember passages of this book as a revelation to me in how we see, not just what we see. I know that when I have my camera in my hand, and when looking through the lens, I see things in a different way. I look much harder and with a different eye to my usual vision, it seems to intensify my concentration on the visual and I am able to see things that I don’t usually notice. Here are some images from a recent outing to a playground with my kids. Because I’d brought my camera I saw not only the children playing but the colours and textures of the equipment they were using for play. [Of course, you may notice that I’ve used a stronger colour saturation filter on this (called ‘Pop Art’ on my Olympus Pen – hope this isn’t too much for some viewers – saturating colours makes me feel like I’m almost eating the colour!]
In Ways of Seeing John Berger says: “Every time we look at a photograph, we are aware, however slightly, of the photographer selecting that sight from an infinity of other possible sights”
In Notes on the Gaze Daniel Chandler writes: “Looking at someone using a camera (or looking at images thus produced) is clearly different from looking at the same person directly. Indeed, the camera frequently enables us to look at people whom we would never otherwise see at all. In a very literal sense, the camera turns the depicted person into an object, distancing viewer and viewed.”
Many other great writers have written on the philosophy of photography, Susan Sontag, Scott Walden, Patrick Maynard, books I am adding to my wish list so that I can further explore the subject.