In a dream a photograph is but a window to your imagination, and so it is in Dreamworld Photography. The camera is just one of many tools, a photograph is merely a canvas or splinter of the palette, playful and fanciful transformations lead to inventive creations and let the artist take you into a world of sometimes wild ideas and at other times serene memories.
Every artist interprets the genre uniquely and with a very personal touch. For me brush strokes transform mundane objects into hints and stimuli for the viewer’s imagination. A simple swipe of color will hide the individuality of a person in a picture, indeed remove the identity, leaving just enough for the viewer’s mind to conjure up a story of the character.
I remember a walk along a charming lake with a friend. At one point I raised my camera and my friend asked, “what do you see?” It brought to my attention that we do not see what is before us the same way. It was a floating log in that case that struck my fancy, it immediately triggered an idea for an image. Sometimes I go out with a concept, but more often than not I let the situation prompt my dreaming.
Gardens are my favorite places for collecting photos, some to show the beauty of the plants and flowers, often for turning them into images far from photographic reality. The photo is my starting point for bringing out an idea. Let me show you with a few examples from a recent visit to a garden.
It was a gray, fall day, totally overcast; there was a chill in the air. Leaves covered the path between rows of trees getting themselves ready for the fall foliage show. It would take hours to turn my photo into the visual message that I wanted to tell. A blue cast on the tree trunks to bring a chill. Exaggerated colors conjure up the coming of fall. This is not what I saw, this is what I felt.
Water lilies, how can you not think of Claude Monet? He devoted years to painting them. It seemed that a painterly style, reminiscent of Monet’s technique, was called for, without giving up a measure of my own identity. My first task was to make a collection of photos with appropriate composition. The overcast sky offered soft, flat light, just right for this project. My pictures provided a trove of “canvases” and I enjoyed transforming my water lilies into impressionistic images that tell my story in form, texture and color.
Dreaming in a Japanese Garden
Japanese gardens are always a delight, exotic, immaculate, perfectly composed. Garden lanterns and bird statuary placed in just the right spots, plants arranged like works of art, all these details that invite the visitor to rest and enjoy. I decided vivid color and fluid lines would underscore the impression of exquisite care.
Walking around the winding paths, finding a pleasing and comforting sight from every spot, was wonderful and inspiring. Can I translate those impressions into images that convey the feelings, the magic of this garden? There is so much more that the camera by itself cannot capture, that photos cannot convey.
The overpowering mood of a Japanese garden is one of calm and serene simplicity. My final illustration here tries to convey that feeling.
By the Pond
The simple but perfectly carved stone lantern sitting by a rough boulder is protected by vivid green branches that appear like elegant, vibrant filigree. A few, randomly scattered, dried leaves hint at the fall season. Brushstrokes cannot deliver such detail, only the realistic photographic image can. The unbroken shading in the deep blue water is hard to convey in any other medium. Yet this image is far from being a photograph. It received as much, or more, attention and work as the others here. Like the Japanese garden itself, I tried to present it looking serene, natural, untouched, sitting there, dreaming by the pond.
Oh my, I started to tell you about Dreamworld Photography, and fell into dreaming in the garden. Or did I?