Photographing at the Crossroads
At the crossroads of life. Seems like everyone has been there at least once in their lifetime, I know I have. Photography can be made to "document" times like these when one thinks back at the what ifs? in their lives.
This particular project should really be one conducted with models, family members, friends and so on and will take some creative thinking. One of the first things to do is to interview several people, the more the better, and get a sense of how they feel about the "road not taken". How their lives would be now if only they had done this or done that. Lets take for example a person who now works in a bank, maybe they like it there or perhaps are there to work and put food on the table, but this person really would have loved to be a teacher.
However this person did not finish their college degree and therefore did not become a teacher and is currently working at the bank until perhaps one day they will finally complete their college and then become a teacher.
The photographer is not here to judge anyone, this is not a psychological study or a social project. This is just a simple photographic project which takes a theme and represents it by the way of photographs.
Once you have an idea of what are some of the ways in which people look at their lives and remissness or even regret the steps they have chosen for themselves, perhaps the circumstances which in most ways forced on to go one way instead of the other, then you can begin to plan the project and carefully map out how you will represent each scene or rather each "slice of life."
Going back to the bank employee, The first scene may be the person behind the bank counter while looking aimlessly at the distance perhaps with a not too happy expression on their face. The other scene may be the same person standing in a classroom surrounded by books and with a happy smile while in the back one can see a college degree.
This project does not have to be limited to choices dealing with work. It can be geared towards other more poignant choices, but one must be sensitive to how each decision is presented and it is here where the use of models is a better alternative to using real life examples.
Lets take an image of an elderly lady who is obviously childless. The first image should be of her walking hand in hand with "her daughter" some years later and the following image can be of her being visibly pregnant standing at the front of a abortion clinic.
This, like many other images, can be very disturbing and can awaken powerful feelings in an audience yet they make powerful statement that say a lot about the different choices that we each make in our lives.
However with sensitive use of your photographic representation of these choices, the project can be very rewarding and can even find some venues where to showcase your work.
If you don't feel like tackling such a sensitive topics then this projects can be done with less dramatic choices such as healthy eating habits instead of fatty foods and so on. There is plenty of room for the subjects that can be used with this theme.
Good samples can be shown at fine art galleries, used by some non profit organizations and other agencies, including many religious organizations.
Many images can also be submitted to photographic stock houses and other publications, especially any that focuses on issues that affect society.
The main component is to carefully think of all the possible ways that you can represent the scene and choices, yet do so in a creative way.
An audience needs to be able to clearly identify what the motif of the scenes is.
The clearer that the message is the better acceptance that the image will have by its audience.
Regardless of the type of image that you will use to bring forth a topic or choices, be mindful to do sensitively and in good taste.
Your goal is to photograph not to record images that are so offensive to an audience that they will turn away from it.
Photojournalists are known for this type of very dramatic often grotesque style of photography but their work is actually expected by the readers of the publications that use their services.
© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez
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