Caption for Photos 1-5:

Giggles and Grass Stains

Caption for Photos 6-11:

The Pursuit of Ignorance Past

Caption for Photo 12:

Unattainable, Mesmerizing Happiness


I have entitled my photographic narrative “Ignorance/Bliss”, as I wanted to communicate the search for complete happiness, which seems to be unattainable outside of ignorance.  The title is a play off of the cliche “ignorance is bliss,” with the slash to indicate the unattainability of either, past a certain age.  This is a much darker message than I initially intended, as my intention was to tell the universal story of the search for happiness, that I feel dictates each individual’s life story.  The responses I received corresponded to my starting narrative, but, along with my change of heart for the message of the project, I want the viewers to understand it as well.  I find I sympathize with Mohr’s view of photography, which is that the photographer is the vehicle for the art.  I have thought art to be a form through which the artist expresses his or her thoughts and views, and if this is to be left solely to the viewer, then this strips the artist of his or her art.  If this is the desirable outcome, then the artist may well not have existed.  I understand this is the viewpoint of Barthes, to remove the photographer from the consideration of the photograph, but this theory is senseless to me.  The photograph was seen by the photographer.  It is a moment of life that he or she experienced in a way that no one else did or can.  Thus, Mohr is my model, as this is, in a way, my art, and I want viewers to understand it as intended, for this is the reason humans communicate–to demonstrate and prove intention.  The photographic essay has its own story, but the words must be there to guide it.

My photographs are captioned in groups, because I do not want to completely override the art of the original photographer, but rather string the art in a way I have dictated, through my sections, in order to tell my story.  The first section, of young people, is representative of the initial stage of life, as Abby pointed out, when “happiness can be found easily” and one is still essentially unbothered by the complexities of human society and his own self.  This part of life is physical and easy, a message I tried to capture in the caption “Giggles and Grass Stains”.  The second section is entitled “The Pursuit of Ignorance Past”, as the individual, now older and more exposed to a complicated world, attempts to reverse time and once again be blissfully happy.  I wanted to make this clear, because Claire, for example, was confused by the photograph of the pills, which was the darkest of the section.  The last photograph is entitled “Unattainable, Mesmerizing Happiness” in an attempt to convey the pull that the individual feels towards blissful happiness.  This is illustrated through the group of people looking up at the fireworks, as their goal is so brilliant and amazing, and yet so intangible, much like the beauty of a firework.


As aforementioned, my initial goal was to simply tell the universal tale of the pursuit of happiness.  I was attempting, much like Edward Steichen of The Family of Man, to create a universality with my narrative.  This is what drew me to attempt to add diversity to the subjects in my photos.  As I searched for photographs to demonstrate this narrative, I found a distinction between youth, whose happiness comes more readily, and the older population, whose search includes supplements to aid in their happiness.   Upon the reception of the comments from Claire and Abby, I wanted my message to be more complex than they had understood it.  I wanted to use my words to create a punctum for the reader without overriding the purpose and meaning behind the original, separate, photographs.  Further, I feel that a caption under every photo was too limiting for the viewer, as the emotions and experiences I attempted to convey transcend my own vocabulary, and I did not want to devalue the message with inappropriate words.  Thus, I created sections, which impose a message without being too blunt.


Photo One: http://www.flickr.com/photos/clea/8310492642/

Photo Two: http://blocklist.tumblr.com

Photo Three: http://mollyinkenya.tumblr.com

Photo Four: http://faith-in-humanity.tumblr.com

Photo Five: http://jbarbie.com

Photo Six: http://suezin.tumblr.com/post/40702672973/psycodelocos-on-we-heart-it

Photo Seven: http://hayleymehmet.com

Photo Eight: http://totallycoolpix.com/2011/03/holi-day-aka-festival-of-colours/

Photo Nine: http://happeningwithinyou.tumblr.com/post/21422374110

Photo Ten: http://fotojournalismus.tumblr.com

Photo Eleven: My photo

Photo Twelve: http://itslatingirl.tumblr.com

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to Ignorance/Bliss

  1. Title: Don’t Worry, Be Happy

    To me this narrative is about being happy. All of the pictures show people smiling and enjoying life, from when you are a little kid to when you are old. It is also about being happy no matter what the circumstances are. The pill bottle is a little confusing, but I guess it could be related to depression or something because some people use medication to keep them happy.

  2. Evolution of Happiness
    This photographic narrative tells the story of an individual’s life. It begins with childhood, when happiness can be found easily and in simple things, such as in a pet, and is the same across many cultures. The search for happiness continues as one ages, sometimes sought in solitude, sometimes surrounded by others. The final photograph could also represent the end of a life, but it still conveys a sense of happiness.

  3. Sheila Jelen says:

    A beautiful selection of photographs. I am concerned, in your narrative framing of the essay, however, that you are conflating Mitchell’s notion of an imagetext with his notion of a photographic essay. I don’t think he would argue, as you do, that all photographic essays are made of imagetexts. Rather, for him, an imagetext can be found in every text and every image, and a photographic essay is an essay wherein text and image are separate, independent and yet collaborative. I wasn’t sure, for that matter, where your understanding of imagetexts and photographic essays fit into your project in any case.

  4. Sheila Jelen says:

    Your decision to provide one caption for a series of photographs is intriguing and well articulated, although I think it would have been easier to assimilate if they had not followed the whole essay as a unit, but rather, had been placed in the essay itself. Perhaps you had some technical difficulties in doing that. If you look at The Family of Man, to which you refer, there is one page in particular which uses the same caption for a bunch of different pictures (“We two form a multitude”). That would have been a very different page if the quote had just appeared once, centered, for them all, or if it had appeared under only one of them. I wonder if you think your “captions in common” might have been more effective if they had appeared differently?

  5. Rachel says:

    I’m commenting on behalf of Terri’s section of HHUM106.

    I enjoyed your topic of ignorance/bliss and exploring the unattainable nature of these two ideas. I also appreciate the model that you based your photo essay on, that a photograph represents a specific experience or is linked to a special meaning for the photographer.
    One question I have is in regards to the photo of the festival of colors; is there a reason you had for choosing this photo depicting a large mass of people in contrast to the other photos, with mostly individuals?

  6. Mica Cocco says:

    I enjoyed Maxine’s honesty when she said that she did not intend to arrive at a dark, rather bleak conclusion that happiness is simply unattainable without being ignorant. Although this seems quite depressing, in actuality I find it to be rather enlightening, even refreshing, to learn that these photographs are representative of a happiness that is perhaps only portrayed via a two-dimensional image, when in actuality, these depictions of bliss are purely synthetic and temporary. As prior noted I feel as though this is refreshing for it makes me as the viewer question whether or not happiness even has the capacity to first of all, be represented through a material medium, and most importantly, if happiness itself even exists in the real world. If happiness does in fact exist, is it only found in those who are ignorant? Or do these people with cheeky smiles truly encompass a perpetual bliss regardless of their cognitive capacities?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s