Alejandro’s Photographic Narrative

Life is a Dream

stonehenge

small pyramid

What is an Egypt?

arch of triumph

The Geometric

notre dame scary

The Entropycal

ozymandias

…Ozymandias

lost in corn

wall grave

Si vous marchez avant que vous rampiez,

dead ivy wall

Vous rampez avant que vous mouriez

barcelona crumbling wall

We are all submissive

Sedimentary with Road

So are our truths

lone rock

savannah plains

In spite of this, we claim the Grind

rains nambia

small pine

The beautiful Grind

field of seedlings

But what we don’t realize is that

Baobab Field

It was never there 

fat baobab

 It was always there

.

My Reflection (I know this is far more than one paragraph but honestly, the prompt for it was way too demanding and enticing)

I wanted to tell a story of something being built, destroyed and then recycled. I sought out the initial photographs with the goal that they would contribute to an extended metaphor for life, each one being symbolic of the cyclical nature of nature itself. I sought out many photographs, over twice the amount in the essay, because I kept changing my mind on how each one contributed. Interestingly enough, I ended up editing out every photograph with humans in them except one. The surviving one merely had an actor portraying a dead body in it. I felt that the ideas created by seeing people in photographs, “where are they now?” “what happened in their past and future?” “are they dead?”, were detrimental to my narrative’s purpose in representing the cyclical patterns of life. Berger would probably describe this as the ambiguity between the operator’s recording and observer’s contact.

My aversion for this type of ambiguity would come to play later, where my commenters noted how their perception of the photographs changed because they recognized some of the popular images in them, such as a famous cemetery in New Orleans. I also realized that many had very similar visions for the essay that I did. My goal with the added narrative was then to expand these similar visions, which their titles described as “monumental” and “castles in the sand”, through text, thus opening the narrow interpretive view I had created.

I saw my narrative as pure and elemental, so I did not want it to lose these tonalities for aesthetic reasons. Yet, these same aspects, in my mind, made it too narrow in interpretative scope. I sought to amend this contradiction by adding captions that, although not outright opposing, created some tension with the photographs, forcing the observer to think. Some of the captions contained simple ideas, even if just a word, that I thought would open the photographs to different interpretations. Others provided their own narrative, like a poem, that followed the progression the photographic narrative but without referencing it explicitly. I even contradicted myself sometimes, for the sake of constructive discontinuity, such as when I captioned a photograph “…Ozymandias” when the photograph depicts an image similar to the one intended in the poem.

What I found most interesting of the whole project is how much my vision changed. Midway through its construction, the photographic narrative itself began to influence how I saw it and how I thought it should look like. Despite my perspective as an editor of photographs, I realized that the idea that the photographer has final say in her work weakens when shed in the light of the inherent power of the photograph itself.

 

Sources:

*** Do not associate these titles with any of the photographs

Stonehenge: https://photographyandlit.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/stonehenge-wallpaper-1.jpg                                                                                                               Small Pyramid: http://www.tabhauser.com/tabhauser_egyptjordan.htm            Arch of Triumph: http://althistory.wikia.com/wiki/Arc_de_Triomphe_(Gro%C3%9F-Deutschland)    Notre Dame Scary http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Notre_Dame_Cathedral.jpg            Ozymandias: http://laliteraliteraria.files.wordpress.com/2011/05/ozymandias-egypt.jpg                                                                                                                                Lost In Corn: http://www.zonezero.com/zz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1235&catid=2&Itemid=7&lang=en#        Wall Grave: http://www.reidkasprowicz.com/photoblog/2012/12/the-wall-between-life-and-death/                                                                                                Dead Ivy Wall: http://www.featurepics.com/online/Dead-Wall-Ivy-Photos174261.aspx                                                                                                 Barcelona Crumbling Wall: http://www.barcelonaphotoblog.com/2007/03/iberians-on-track-of-my-ancestors.html                                                                                                     Sedimentary with Road: http://geotripper.blogspot.com/2012/03/strangers-in-strange-land-tuff-luck-its.html                                                                                     Lone Rock: http://www.mnorthup.com/2009%20Spring%20Desert%20Trip/a-Death%20Valley/slides/DSC_4971%20Lone%20Rock%20-%20DV%20North%20End.html                                                                           Savannah Plains: http://bjkz.blogspot.com/2012_06_01_archive.html                Rains Nambia: http://eoimages.gsfc.nasa.gov/images/imagerecords/50000/50573/namibia_rainstorm_photo_lrg.jpg                                                                                                     Small Pine: http://openspacerestoration.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/09/slash-pine.jpg                                                                    Field of Seedlings: http://0.tqn.com/d/treesandshrubs/1/0/P/4/-/-/WalnutTreeSeedlingsFlickrKidMoxie.jpg                                                            Baobab Field: http://www.flickr.com/photos/ramonaflip/5747980492/               Fat Baobab: http://www.zonezero.com/zz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=1245&catid=2&Itemid=7&lang=en#

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4 Responses to Alejandro’s Photographic Narrative

  1. Title: Bucket List

    It seems like these are all places that people should visit before they “kick the bucket.” This narrative includes pictures of the wonders of the world, as well as just some amazing places that are unlike any other. I recognize the picture of the graves, it’s the Lafayette Cemetery in New Orleans. I went there a year ago and it is truly amazing.

  2. Title: Castles in the Sand

    To me, this narrative is about splendor that eventually goes to shambles. Hence, the title, which alludes to a Bible verse about how building our lives [castles] on foundations [sand] that don’t last will only end in destruction. Even though there are a lot of lavish structures in the picture, I can’t help but see how everything has come from Earth and will return to the Earth. It reminds me of how short our times are in this life and vain some of our efforts can be.

  3. Sheila Jelen says:

    The title I gave your essay was “Monumental.” I love the first paragraph of your narrative framing of this essay, but was confused by some of your terminology in the second part: What do you mean by “ambiguously transitions” from section to section? Or what is an “archetypal storyline.” I also wish I had heard a bit more about the specific photo-essay you submitted, although in truth, you are probably correct in withholding your own intentions in favor of letting the essay speak for itself…

  4. Sheila Jelen says:

    I agree with you that adding a caption can dramatically open up interpretive possibilities, and I love the captions you added. Some of your colleagues felt strongly that captions and titles would over-determine the possible readings, but I tend to disagree, along the lines of what you expressed in your reflection. I also found it intriguing that the familiarity of an image for your spectator would shut down the range of interpretive possibilities, and you tried to fix that by adding a caption that could open them out again. I loved the way that you related to the images on an individual basis, in your reflections, and also as a collective narrative.

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