Lapwings over Loch Fleet
Where does my work fit and who will care? Who is and who could be my “consumer”? One of the weeks presentations discussed Barthes (1982) concepts of “studium”, which describes that which has polite, general interest and can be assessed in primarily objective terms, and “punctum” which is defined as the prick or wound, as the element that pierces the viewer like an arrow and can be assessed in primarily subjective terms. I suspect it is punctum that is the difference between a good photograph and great photograph. That is to take nothing away from a photo with great studium as they are quite likely technically and aesthetically beautiful and popular. But it is unlikely those photos would be described as powerful or piercing as those with punctum. A photo of a dolphin entrapped in a fishing net would likely be viewed by most as having punctum. I think most of my photos have significant studium, they generally lack punctum. It seems to me that punctum derives often from images that evoke emotion. Photos that make people feel the pain or joy, anger or despair depicted may be viewed as more powerful. Photos with humans involved are probably easier for people to relate to than photos of animals or plants alone. Photos of animals suffering in some way, particularly as a result of human actions, often evoke emotion, but I am not inclined to seek out those relatively rare situations. Sometimes a photo of a species so rare or a circumstance so rarely seen as to create a sense of wonderment can carry punctum. Not as powerful a punctum as reportage photos of a warzone’s’ impacts on people there, but punctum nonetheless.
I have yet to clearly identify my audience, though I think people in general like seeing images of the natural world that surrounds us. How to package my images to reach an audience is perhaps the tougher question that needs to be answered, along with the question of what would interest people in my photographs rather than the thousands upon thousands of other photographs of similar subjects?
I have the kernel of an idea that I would like to have my photographs bring to people that which they would not normally see; photos that inspire and evoke their sense of wonderment both in terms of what they see on the image and in how it was captured.
Still some things to be worked out and it will evolve throughout the course, but is early days in the journey and it would be surprising if I had all the answers.