3.5 Photographs From Text

I have never before placed text and photographs together, nor taken photographs based on inspiration from text. I generally don’t even like giving a photograph a title as I’d rather the image speaks for itself and it is up to the viewers to interpret it.

I did however enjoy English Literature at school, and when I have not got my face buried in a camera it’s usually in a book and I had no difficulty sourcing my inspiring texts – they’re all highlighted in my Kindle eBook reader:

P.D.James, The Children Of Men: “We can experience nothing but the present moment, live in no other second of time, and to understand this is as close as we can get to eternal life.”

Martin Amis, London Fields: “Time goes about its immemorial work of making everyone look and feel like shit.”

H.G.Wells, The Time Machine: “Wait for the common sense of the morning.”

Jules Verne, The Mysterious Island: “It is a great misfortune to be alone, and it must be believed that solitude can quickly destroy reason.”

John Steinbeck, Of Mice & Men: “Maybe ever’body in the whole damn world is scared of each other.”

I recently decided to have a go at photographing in the style of Martin Parr. Parr is brilliant at capturing everyday moments in his images. This is a photograph of a photograph being made, a moment in the lives of all these people, some of whom will have a reasonably permanent record of it, some just a fleeting memory that was probably forgotten in minutes.

One Moment

I must admit to being a bit conflicted about presenting this next image. I love the quote from the work of Martin Amis, and the juxtaposition of the characters in the scene, but I feel like I’m making a statement about someone without understanding their circumstances.

For the purpose of the exercise I’ve decided to place the text across the frame. This is partly because this exercise is about experimenting, and partly because it helps to fill what would otherwise be a bit of a blank and uninteresting space in the photograph itself.

Time goes about

In this example I have experimented with incorporating the text into an element of the image. I’m sure there might be instances where this feels right, but at this point in time I haven’t found it and it seems a bit gimmicky. The photograph itself was taken a few months ago, rather than being inspired by it, but it seems to fit the words and was the first thing that came to mind on reading them:

Solitude - Soouthbank

This image I like better, and unlike the previous one it was taken specifically with this quote in mind. I did play around with features in Photoshop that would make the text look as though it was chiselled into the paving stones, but whilst I was pleased to have been able to do it, it did look a bit contrived. I have however chosen a grey font in keeping with the tones in the photograph.

Solitude v2

I’m get a bit fed up of seeing people on their phones in my photographs. Take a picture on any street in the UK and you can pretty much guarantee there’ll be someone staring at a screen…

Mice and Men

Like many exercises I’ve enjoyed this more than I might have expected too. Whilst I probably won’t be continuing to do much work like this I feel it will  be useful to photograph with words in mind even if they’re not used in text with he final image.

6 thoughts on “3.5 Photographs From Text

  1. Some great photography. It’s hard to not make judgements about people without knowing their circumstances, but it’s also human nature, hard wired into us as a survival instinct.

    The photo with the text going across the negative space is the one that I find to be the most artistic and meaningful. I think the one with the tree works well. They all do but their my favourites.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mike, I agree with Richard’s comments regarding the photographs. I think my favourite is the second black and white with the bird, my only criticism is that I can’t read the text as it is a bit small.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think these work very well. I don’t think it matters whether you know the situation of the people in the images, you are using them to make a general observation about human nature rather than a specific statement about these individuals.

    Liked by 1 person

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