From the Latin introspicere, “to look within”, introspection is the observation or examination of one’s own mental and emotional state, and mental processes. Expressed through photography this can produce powerful, emotive, and often unsettling images which communicate intimately.

Self-portraits, for example, can capture your expression at a moment and illuminate your private thoughts.  Introspective images should try to elicit an emotional response from the viewer.  An honest display of emotion creates a very direct and strong connection between the photographer and viewer. 

Broadening the scope to the world around and you can include those things that touch you in your daily life.  Ask yourself what in the world strikes a chord with how you are feeling at this moment, the morning light through a window, the hustle and bustle of a crowded street, a beaming smile, capture it and share.  As a way of exploring and analysing your environment you could set yourself the task of taking one photo everyday to create a photographic diary of your life.  These images will not only document your life but will inevitably reveal yourself and feelings to the viewer.

Most images use metaphors and symbolism to convey the message within the image.  The image will evoke feelings beyond the subject of the photograph.  Some metaphors might be familiar, such as a decaying building, a red balloon slipping from the hand, storm clouds brewing, gulls riding the wind.  Others might be more abstract still, a convergence of light or lines with texture to strike a single chord.  Symbolism creates a particular challenge in photography.  To get a message across the photographer and viewer must both understand the symbol in the same way, but this can make the image clichéd or dull.  Finding an original take on established symbol is a challenge and conundrum.  Finding an original shared symbol is harder still, if its possible at all!

Perhaps the aim of the introspective photograph is to hold a mirror up to the viewer to try to invoke a shared response, an “ah, me too” moment.  In this respect the image in a viewer’s mind is more important than the photograph itself.  It’s a catalyst, a catalyst you choose and direct.  What scene can you capture to make someone else feel the way you do now?

Introspection can be used as a tool to tap into the reservoir of ideas within, with many different types and styles of photography open to use.  Once started you’ll find as much potential for images inside yourself as in all the world around.


~ by Alan Humphris on October 30, 2009.

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