7. There are seven Elements of Art. I know, because I read it on the internet. Line, shape, texture, form, space, color and value. I’ve been creating art in one form or another for most of my life; I have a Bachelors of Fine Art, and I couldn’t have told you that.
I’ve never been very cerebral about my art. As a photographer I create art from what the world presents to me, and I try to put myself into position to create something pleasing. I align elements within my composition to form pleasing ‘lines’, ‘shapes’, and ‘spaces’; I use light to add ‘texture’, ‘form’, ‘color’, and ‘value’, but I’ve been at it long enough now that it’s not something that I have to actively think about much anymore.
When I have had the time to sit back and analyze it, as I’ve had lately, it occurs to me that I’d like to add an eighth element to art, one that doesn’t apply so much to the analysis of art, but to it’s creation.
Time and photography kind of go hand in hand, as in ‘capturing a moment in time.’ That’s not the kind of time I mean, though. I mean time in the context of reflection. You create a composition within the viewfinder of your camera, you take a little time and reflect: how can I make it better? But that’s not quite the kind of time I mean, either.
I mean time in the sense of distance, of removal. The emotional distance that allows you to remove yourself from the attachment to the moment of creation, and to reflect upon the image more honestly.
I always give myself time to live with a ‘finished’ image before I deliver it to a client. Given the realities of business, this is often no more than a day, but even 24 hours can be enough to look at an image with fresher eyes and see those last few tweaks that put it over the top. Or, sometimes, see where you need to start over from.
This ‘time’ isn’t evident in a finished image, but it is critical to creative process.
The last ten months have provided me with the time to go back and review some of the images that I’ve created over the past few years and look at them anew. It’s been refreshing, and enlightening. In particular, it’s allowed me to look at images that didn’t quite make it, images that didn’t have what I’d envisioned when I’d created them, and so I passed over them to concentrate on the images that did. Time has given me the emotional distance to look at them and see possibilities I’d overlooked.
A lot of these possibilities presented themselves in the form of reduction: images where the line, shape, space, and texture were present, but the form, color, and value were absent; images where the composition was there, but the quality of light was not. Many of these images lent themselves to black & white, were composition is king, and Ansel Adams’ Zone System, modified for the digital era.
It’s been gratifying to salvage these images from the trash heap, even exciting at times. And it’s been fun. I’d like to share some of these images and hope that you enjoy looking at them even half as much as I’ve enjoyed RE-creating them.