Awareness Experimentation

One particular aspect of approach I'm playing with on the Black/White project is subject/viewer awareness relationships. What's this? Simply put it's how aware the observer — the person viewing the photograph — is of the subject's awareness of being observed. Broadly speaking eye contact with the viewer of the photograph is a dead giveaway. Most narrative cinema and television have a rule regarding eye contact or other in-your-face indicators are a no-go. Characters never speak to the viewer or indicate their awareness of being viewed by the audience. One narrative drama that breaks this on purpose in every episode is House Of Cards.

In practice it's far more complicated a relationship than just eye contact and has a gigantic influence on how a photograph feels. As with most things there are degrees and gray areas and balances to be toyed with and used. There's also the part that's purely subject driven but closely related to viewer/observer awareness of the subject — the subjects level of self consciousness. Another rule that any subject self consciousness is a "bad thing". I completely disagree no matter what genre or context. Even with portraits this is not a fixed rule. Some of the most compelling portraits I've ever seen, the ones that stick into my head lack eye contact but have a ton of subject self consciousness in the mix.

Jessica has a both eye contact/viewer awareness as well as a bit of self consciousness above.

Here she's lacking either.

And here there's no viewer awareness displayed or indicated in any way but a bit of self consciousness. This short sequence is a broad brush of what I'm playing with and haven't landed on an overall preference for the project but it's also close related to the balance of abstract and specific I've been experimenting as well. None of this is either/or it's more of a balance in what I want the project to say.

Another random example is Holly which is both self-concious and viewer aware at the extreme in the second image here but not so much in the first.

Fuji XT-1 18-55mm @ 18mm