The Psychology of an Image
24 May 2012
Photographers... there are millions of us: the artist, the amateur, the snapshooter, the professional, the equipment measurbator, and the online expert. The level of expertise may divide us, but the psychology of photography renders us just one great big 'kingdom-phylum-class-order-family-genus-species' or... photogs.
We take pictures for a thousand reasons: for money, for pleasure, for entertainment, for documentation, for art, for history, for escape, for class, for comparison and that's just scratching the surface. Still, we all have favorite subjects that we revisit and we all have a unique way of viewing the world... a view we want to share and for which we want validation.
We describe our photos in terms of depth of field and tones and perspective and point of view and f-stops and focal lengths and film and pixels and shutter speed and ISO and white balance and focus. We provide information about our images; what, when, where, why, who, and how. And we think that is all of it. Defined in this way, it makes the whole business rather robotic. But we are not robots therefore bits and pieces of us engraft in each image.
With this as my prod, I started examining my photos, first sorting then grouping then looking for similarities in style and nuance. Through the process, I discovered that many of my portraits where cut in half with shadow or cropping and the rest were chopped up in one way or another. I saw windows without panes and doors opening inward, and stairs going up more than down and a large collection of geometric shapes and unfamiliar houses and lots of water and frames and antiques and objects from my past. And I wondered why I was drawn to these images, this style, and this way of capturing objects in time.
Bottom line... I had no idea why I do what I do with a camera. Consciously I was clueless. Perhaps my subconscious could shed some light. Art is often used effectively in therapy to unlock the subconscious. And what is photography if not art. Knowing that dreams are images of subconscious thought, I Googled 'dream dictionary' and started my research.
I went through my photos in jpg and listed the 20 most common themes and objects. Then I counted the number of photos in which the similarity appeared. Then I referenced the dream dictionary and wrote down the meaning of each. Ordered from most common to least common, I read the results to myself. It was a real eye-opener and my truth squared.
105 frames (boundaries, limitations, and/or vanity)
93 windows - broken or missing (a distorted view or outlook on life) - Intact windows (insight, intuition, and point of view)
63 geometric shapes - 29 triangles (potential and truth); 12 circles (an indication one is overly guarded)
55 of children (repressed desires and unfulfilled hopes)
52 faces partially or completely hidden, cropped away, or absent (searching for one's identity or rejecting/hiding parts of self)
46 of water (emotional state of mind and transitions from subconscious to conscious awareness)
37 houses - houses represent soul or self; all 37 were unfamiliar (repressed memories), 25 abandoned (emotional and psychological clutter), 25 empty (insecurity), 13 individual rooms (aspects of one's psyche)
35 objects from the past (something genuine or proven)
32 musical instruments - 5 pianos (no one playing) - uncertainty about how to express yourself or voice your beliefs. The remaining 27 stringed instruments - 3 violin (peace and harmony), and 24 guitar (passion and emotion)
24 repeating patterns (lack of identity)
12 distorted images (undeveloped aspects of self)
The subconscious analysis of my images is right on and the message is consistent. These are the images of a photographer looking for self through a mountain of unclaimed baggage... a photographer with potential who is intuitive, passionate, emotional and a seeker of truth.
I will continue to learn and grow in my photography, but these are the things that call my name, and now I know why.
My guess is you're more than a little curious about what your subconscious is exposing in your images.
A good place to start looking: http://www.dreammoods.com/dreamdictionary/