Fragments of Time by Ryuijie
It may or may not be obvious what you are looking at in this photograph. With enough analysis you'll probably recognize it as some kind of leaf. To me, however, it's always felt a lot more like flight.
Ryuijie did a most interesting thing with this image that differentiates it from the typical botanical photograph. There's no stem, there's no leaf brothers and sisters, there's no background other than this featureless black. The shape floats on this black background and perhaps that's why, for me, it feels more like wings at the top of the power stroke. I've always found it easier to see this image as a bat or perhaps a ray-like creature of the sea than as a yucca leaf.
It should be noted that this image is included in a project that Ryuijie titled Fragments of Time. I have to confess, I like the title but I don't quite understand it in relationship to this photograph — which brings us to one of the interesting aspects of photographic artwork: viewers may not always see what we, as photographers, intend. My reaction to this photograph has been strong since the moment I saw it, but I wouldn't be surprised at all to learn that Ryuijie had no intention of representing flight the way I see it.
I may be entirely missing his point of the photograph, but then again he may be entirely missing mine. This is an incredibly slippery slope. I often hear from photographers a thoroughly noncommittal attitude toward the interpretation of their work. "However you want to think about it is fine! It's not my place as a photographer to tell you what to think about it." Hogwash. I'll say this topic for another time, but there is no denying that there are differences, from time to time, between what the photographer intends and what the audience sees.
As a viewer of photographs, I try as best I can to give the photographer the benefit of the doubt and interpret the image as they intend. There are times, however — and this image is an example of that — where the intention of the photographer is sufficiently vague as to leave us functionally on our own. As producers of photographs, if we are comfortable with that, vague titles are perfectly acceptable. If, however, we feel strongly about the audience understanding the photograph from our point of view, we need to make sure they have enough information to be steered down the path of our choice. It's one of the fundamental decisions we need to make as art makers and then take actions with titles, descriptions, or even the image content so that our wishes are known.
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