Hosta Studies by Michael J. Carl
Sometimes — perhaps more frequently than I should admit in public — I enjoy a photograph simply because my eye delights in the geometry and the tones. Perhaps Michael Carl intended this project and this image for some deeper and higher purpose than this, but I'm perfectly comfortable gazing at this photograph for no other reason than the somewhat hedonistic pleasure of enjoying it.
Of course, hosta plants are not this color; they probably don't exhibit in nature this degree of tonal contrast; nor are they this tidy and symmetrical. But this is art! As art, the photograph doesn't need to show us what a hosta looks like, but rather what the photographer wants us to see in the hopes that we find something there of value. Artificial colors? Perfectly valid. Applying an increase in contrast? Sure, why not? Will this appeal to everybody? Clearly not — no piece of artwork does. But, if you do enjoy this image, then what difference does it make that he strayed so far from reality?
On an unrelated point, this image also provided us with an ideal opportunity to use it in the title page of Carl's LensWork Extended monograph. As I've done more and more of this kind of work both for LensWork and for my personal work, I've become more sensitive to the potential in images for use in such unexpected ways. Projects need title pages, button images, index thumbnails, promotional art for webpages that can convey something even if they are small, and all kinds of not strictly photographic uses that add to the overall project. This image, with its pointing leaf tip seemed perfectly suited for use in the title page. It's something to keep in mind as you are working your images in a project. Which one(s) might lend themselves to title pages and other uses? Designing titles pages like this one can be a lot of fun and offers lots of opportunity for experimentation and expanded creativity.
The portfolio can be seen in its entirety in our back issues — print (while still available) and our PDFs for computer, iPad, Android, and other devices. Plus, bonus audio commentary about this image is available to full-access members of LensWork Online.
Add your comments and observations to the discussion by using the "Comments" link at the bottom of this post.