Hello dear reader. From previous articles on portrait genres and emotions, we already know what accents are needed for each direction of photography and how to show not just a “carcass” of a person, but a living character with emotion and feelings.
We take a camera in our hands in order to take a photo. Suddenly, of course, but we signed up for it ourselves. Most often, we strive to express ourselves, to put our thoughts and ideas into the image, but also often we do not know how best to display our reality so that the viewer can fully understand it and feel how we feel it. In this article, we will look at the viewer’s perception and how to manipulate it in order to gain control over the product being created and not rely on luck.
Photography is a reflection of reality. But, as in any visual production, the displayed reality is refracted by the perception of the author. The photographer seeks to put his ideas and thoughts into the frame, often forgetting that he directly interacts with the subject and the surrounding reality. Our attitude towards our own work is initially subjective and biased, and also too far from the impressions of those for whom photography is intended — the audience.
The viewer, looking at the photo, has no idea about “what the author wanted to say”, who is captured in the picture, what thoughts and aspirations were invested during the work. Yes, unfortunately he does not need it. We live in a time when the viewer is surrounded by a large amount of visual content, thanks to the Internet, outdoor advertising, television, etc. Our audience no longer spends most of its energy on finding an interesting image, as it was in the last century and earlier, but on eliminating the uninteresting.
In order not to hope for a successful match in mutual understanding with your audience, but to have the ability to control and always get a more guaranteed result as a result of the filming process, let’s look at how the viewer’s perception is built.
We can say that a person becomes a spectator at birth, because. our species is born with eyes already open, but with a slight nuance: for the first 4 months, the baby cannot focus his eyes and mostly sees blurry colored spots. Over time, we begin to study the world around us: I think each of us has at least once seen how a baby pulls everything that comes to hand into his mouth, tries to break the surrounding objects and often behaves extremely unreasonably compared to an adult. But such behavior is not connected with the fact that the child is a crazy vandal, but with the fact that at the beginning of our life we need to get a lot of information about the world around us: with tactile contact, we perceive the texture of objects; when we pull objects into the mouth, we feel the taste and at the same time smell; when trying to break an object, we study its strength and elasticity. At the beginning of his existence, a person collects and remembers a large amount of information in order to subsequently easily perceive and interact with the reality around him. If you, dear reader, are already at the age when you can read this article, then you can also easily imagine and feel how you touch, feel the taste and, sometimes, smell of objects, just by looking at them. Fortunately, our consciousness does not pull out information in the form of direct speech in the thought process: “if I touch this table / wall / anything, I will feel a similar texture”, but immediately creates a sensation based on previous experience.
In fact, any frame is a two-dimensional image of a static moment of reality, displayed by means of a screen or printed (or otherwise formed) on any surface, incapable of evoking in a person anything but a sensation from the surface of the material. But the mechanics of perception described above allows the viewer to experience different “feelings” when viewing a photo, because our consciousness is able to distinguish the imprinted content and enrich it with the impressions of life experience.
Due to this, the photographer has the ability to control the perception of the viewer, i.e. the author can set the direction in which his audience will “feel” and build a whole story, giving photography life.
Although the viewer and our target audience as a whole are an intangible abstraction, since it is unlikely that in the age of the Internet we will be able to personally meet everyone who sees our work, get to know their personalities and characters, but, fortunately, the perception mechanisms of all people are the same. Such unity allows us to create speech and find a common language through the manipulation of the visual content of photographs, without fear that the unique features of the character (after all, each of us is a “personality”) will not allow the audience to fully understand the embedded intention.
There are three elements in photography that give the photographer control over the viewer’s perception: clothing, space, and action. I advise you to read them in order.