“… and translating it into Photo Collage Art”
So why did you take a picture of that?
You already have a pair of eyes to see, but it’s the camera that records your vision, providing you with a reason to really look at the composition of light and form, colours and shades surrounding you.
All in all, it’s for you to understand and then translate your own vision of existence into a way to express what YOU understand, using a scene to interpret the subtleties that cannot be put into words, moods that perhaps a shape, colour, or form can convey the message of more coherently than words.
But how deeply can your mind join together the dots and find pictures within pictures and hence a greater picture made up of many objects in tandem?
Nowadays you can snap away to your heart’s content with the modern digitals without wasting money on developing all the pictures, while still having the option to print the ones you like the best.
And if that’s not provoking you to get creative, both a camera and video recorder can be readily found in your hand at all times these days and can lead to you to becoming more imaginative with your mobile phone!
Even though it’s a double-edged sword, one that can either make you become more isolated from who you are, or immersed in your existence if used productively, although we work with whatever cameras we may have available to us, in our Creative Art Therapy workshops, we encourage using the phone to take photos and videos, because it helps you to balance how you use this instrument that’s with you practically all the time.
The focus, colour and zoom qualities on most phones are really good these days, which means you can capture the moment ‘a million times’ without having to become too uptight about technological precision, and yet perfect the alignment and hence image of its component parts.
You can also use the Augmented Reality elements and other jazzy add-ons, on your phone. Find out what is possible and play around, also with the colours and hues the phone may offer you at the blink of an eye; black and white, vintage and modern.
The camera is a tool, a way you can see into your own mind, your photographs being a mirror of you.
How? Because if you were at one with your environment while shooting the pictures, they’ll shine with a hue that otherwise cannot be experienced. Whereas, if you have no conscious relation to the environment around you and are just pointing and shooting here and there, then whatever you record will not contain that same volume of spirit.
This is because into every photo you take, you inject a tiny portion of the consciousness you felt when taking it and even if this is not tangibly visible, the questions you were asking in your mind, the tiny adjustments you made to make it more perfect, the feelings you had about the subjects are all stored in the memory captured in that moment of time.
If you feel deeply into the photo, you will be able to pick up these subtle nuances and tuning yourself in this way connects you to a greater whole.
It’s always true to say that two people can take exactly the same picture and yet both have a very different result.
“Different secrets whisper out”
The Great Play
Everyone knows how to take a photo on a mobile smart phone these days. While out with friends you snap away at a picture of the dinner, the places you go to, objects you like, but maybe without much knowledge of ‘how to actually hold the appearance’.
It helps if you are:
- MINDFUL of how you snap the picture,
- EMBEDDING meaning into every photograph you take,
- INVESTING time and a little effort to create an image you can keep,
- CHOOSING the best pictures to print out
Here we want to make Memories, not just capture a picture!
“Translating 3 dimensional into 2…”
The frame is what defines the whole picture.
But because you generally only have a rectangular frame to play within, you have to really consciously understand that even though you are seeing one thing, capturing it is another story!
Unless you’re working with a 360 degrees application on the camera, what you can see with all the qualities of your own vision, both peripherally and with perspective is not what the camera will actually give you and you should be taking that into consideration every time you shoot a picture.
The space of your vision is 3 dimensional and you are translating that into a 2 dimensional flat picture that will sit inside a frame on your mantelpiece.
This 3 dimensionality can be roughly assessed by mentally extending straight lines out in front of the rectangular shape of the camera viewer, making a large rectangular box ahead of you, which you are going to bring to the event horizon of that rectangle, a surface upon which your picture will be contain the whole.
If you’re taking a photo of a person up front, make sure that the whole of their body is in the frame and really pay attention to not cutting off a tiny portion of their foot, or a part of their head! These tiny errors bring down the whole picture, unless you are purposefully conveying a message with them.
The frame is everything that lies peripheral to the object of interest that you are taking the picture of here; front, back, sides, top and bottom.
And it’s the content of that frame that becomes an inner frame to your outer one, accentuating the meaning of your focus, in terms of colour, shape and angle etc…, either making it come alive, or not.
“The curves of a tree may complement the curves of their bodies,”
2/ Foreground and Background
Move yourself a little to the left, right, front or back, so you can frame the picture to tell a particular story or to hide something ugly that interferes with your object of focus.
And check what’s behind it. Get people to stand in front of something that accentuates them, like the curve of a tree may complement the curve of their body, or a mirror may both frame and reflect them along a nice angle, or bottles lining a dresser behind your subjects in a restaurant may form a line at the top of the picture, whatever!
And check what’s in the foreground, the classic blotch being a bunch of electric wires! Move if you have to, but don’t just snap the picture to get something beautiful behind them, because the disorderly bits will ruin that beauty, unless that is your message!
Eliminate them by going and standing in front of them or frame the camera higher up so they do not enter your viewfinder. Or, use those seemingly nasty looking objects as your object of focus, look at their details and find beauty within them!
Even though presenting things symmetrically is ‘out of fashion these days’, as for some reason people prefer slightly off centre as a general placement rule now, look at the spaces between things and reflected or symmetrical objects. You can find your own way to make symmetry more geometrically interesting by standing in certain positions, lower, higher, you choose!
And you don’t need to follow the crowd!
Plus, which side is the light coming from? If the sun is behind the people or objects they will be in silhouette, but maybe you want that! If there’s a building behind them, do you want to put them in the doorway, or further away from the building and have all of the building in the background?
A few moments of careful consideration can change the whole effect.
“Extending beyond the 3rd dimension,”
3/ Embedding Emotion into the images.
Don’t just look at the object or person itself, but what is happening between you and that object… empty space, other people or a geometrically interesting pathway?
Lead the picture into your subjects, give the foreground that sense of entering into a 3 dimensional space, of being where you were in that moment, capturing the feeling you are having as you use your environment to raise joy and inspiration within you.
You are not changing anything there, you are just playing with what is really there, capturing a slice of it that tells the story about both it and you.
There are pictures you can’t help taking of people, because the scene is just too cute, like a mum sitting with her child on the edge of a fountain in the park, where the water is streaming down and at the same time, compassion is pouring out of the mother.
You then naturally equate the water with the compassion, almost like looking at different dimensional experiences of the same thing happening in one picture, something tangible and intangible at the same time.
Someone seeing the photo may not necessarily connect the water with compassion per se in his/her own mind, but the frequency of that emotion is going to be reflected back to him or her from the picture, because through experiencing the emotion of what you could perceive from your subjects while taking the picture, you’re actually capturing the qualities of the scene, somehow infusing it into the image by snapping it into the picture.
Now we’re bringing in the 4th dimension! But since nowadays there are so many privacy laws in place here in the 3rd, it’s always good to get the permission of the person in your picture, even if its afterwards so as to not lose their natural quality, especially if you intend to put the picture up in a public space.
It’s always true to say that two people can take exactly the same picture and yet both have a very different result.
“of ‘Rabbits in clouds’ and ‘elves in trees’,”
4/ Collective patterns that create other shapes
It’s fun and interesting to stop looking at the objects in your frame individually in themselves, but see how they relate to other forms and then search for lines and shapes that connect them together, which when you frame in a certain way, may come out looking like something else!
Do you want to picture the whole object, or define other shapes out of it or within it? Think about matching different colours along with the geometrical patterns of the shapes in your environment. We’re not trying to create something that’s not there, but being mindful about what is there and how things connect to each other and to you too!
Bring what you’re seeing in front of you to life! Go out and see what’s in the world around you with new eyes and become very much in tune with how you are moving within the space and relating to the objects within it.
And because you are now looking at it rather than through it, which you would be doing if you were just going along to your next task, wearing blinkers and staying inside your head the whole time, use these moments in your day in a way to enrich and excite your inspiration.
Rather than saying, “That is not a part of me, it’s something separate,” you say, “It’s related to me because I’m seeing it, it’s coming into my confrontation and I’m moving within the environment in which it also exists.” And as you build a relationship with those external objects and see them as an extension of your vision, so you consciously become the centre of the space within which you’re moving.
When you’re moving, the space around you is also changing. First a tree was to your left, now it’s behind you, but when you turn around, it’s to your right. Plus you’re now seeing a different side of it, whereas you are still facing it.
You don’t see the detail when looking at the whole of it, but you understand what it means in terms of something very fundamentally real in your own vocabulary. But if you look at its parts and how they connect one to the next, you can find so many interesting correlations to unrelated aspects.
Seeing life in its multi-layers deepens its colour, gives it substance, a beauty. A rabbit with its ears sticking out is watching you from inside the bifurcation of the trunk of a tree, because of the way the bark is folded and there’s not really a frog on the rock, just a bunch of foliage that from behind takes the shape of one almost leaping into the water, where taking it from the correct angle can make it come to life!
Seeing life as an adventure gives it colour, gives it substance, a beauty.
Like this, you discover a way to see beyond the surface and create images that enliven and enrich the way you translate the world around you, revealing another way of seeing things, defining the meaning in your art. And being playful brings a little spark of joy to the moment.
You can then take this skill back into your ordinary world, whether with the camera or your eyes, to start noticing how objects and their shapes are a pathway into a magical perspective.
“To send as a message to my community.”
5/ The Selfie,
It’s simply impossible to take a picture of yourself where your face will come out in the right shape, as it’s nearly always out of proportion because of the proximity of the phone to the face. Instead try only catching a part of your face in the frame, because it often gives it a better shape that way.
But there are no rules, things are all around you and you can play with them as you wish. Have fun and enjoy yourself thoroughly, as long as you don’t harm them and other beings that come into your confrontation.
There may be the old coloured metal image of a medieval baker hanging on the corner of the street. You can ponder under it, or act as if talking to him, playing with your environment. Or climb onto an old, abandoned rusty bicycle next to a wall that you can grab by the handlebars as if you are out on a ride.
You can share moments of ‘your world’ with others, whether through social media or through printing out the pictures that resonate and then doing something creative with them, but you should never fall criminal to imprisoning them inside your hard drive or memory stick.
Sharing your pictures makes you mindful while you’re taking them, because you know they are going to be displayed and also helps you to really look at them later on, discern their meaning and re-feel that moment.
Now the big question is can you share yourself with others and how do you plan to do this?
“Let the photos talk to you.”
Photo Collage Art
Leave your printed out photos in a place where you can see them regularly and then for sure, one or another of them will jump out at you, as you notice them again and again.
Then as you collect these more striking ones together and display them anew, these too as a collective will also start talking to you, pushing you to move them this way and that, to make a shape with them that holds a greater meaning.
Build a mosaic with them, connect a line of a mountain dropping down into the next photo where a wall borders the edge of a field that dissolves into something the same colour as the wall in the next picture, maybe a gushing spray of water or the foliage of a tree, so that there’s a continuity of lines and patterns running across the pictures, colours blending one into the other, making it virtual, like telling a story of the place that does not have any logicality based on how it really looks.
Individually, each picture doesn’t mean very much, as they are ordinary photos of the place and objects within it, but when you put them together they create another whole other meaning. We have much greater power and strength in connectivity.
But the specific way in which you captured the place in each photo are now all jumbled up, showing it through a different lens, the intimacy between objects and scenes giving a sense of collective. Thus a new perspective is born that emerges in a larger drama speaking out a truth of that place, which entirely depends on you, the artist’s interpretation of it.
And the photos must stick onto some material otherwise they can’t stay together, something sturdy like ply wood, which gives them a foundation. This too can be designed into a shape that is part of the whole story of the pictures.
The wood is then prettier if you cover it with cloth of different colours, which could also correspond to different aspects of the picture, then the photos could also fit those colours and shapes, and so it goes on, creation coming out of creation, connecting us to the infinite fractal of time and space…
Time to get playing with your Space!