Series. RMD Gallery. Maldives.

Title: Island of Hoarafushi

©richard mark dobson

Still on the subject of The Birds, I think what I cherish the most about the STILL-ness quality of a colour photograph is this;

In the non-linear narrative quality of a photo-graph, we are given the space/time to open our minds and relax into the unhurried narrative. We are given permission by the creator to engage with his or her vision at a speed we decide for ourselves. Unlike film/motion, which dictates we follow the ‘story’ set by the director!

We can engage with a photograph and study the dynamics of shape, form, pattern, and ask ourselves the why, what, where questions at a leisurely pace and therefore intrinsically deeper level. We are given time to reason with his/her reason for presenting us with the work. But it gets more interesting than that.

Via the ‘colour freeze frame’ (I will explain later why I keep dropping in the COLOUR word) we can fill in the gaps of the narrative with our minds. This for me is the magical quality of a photograph that a film/motion sequence does not carry.

Do you not agree that as we look at this scene of a young island girl rinsing out her jerry can, and a lone angler inching his way through the surf zone to find the place to cast his line (the main subjects of the scene) our minds subliminally paint a mental picture that is almost LIVE ACTION. Can we not imagine her walking across the beach to the water’s edge? Or hear the sound of the surf, the squabbling rooks and crows as we look at this image? Can we taste the salty air?

I believe the still image opens latent experience folders in the brain! It allows us time to pull those ‘experience records’ and add them into the fabric of the work we see before us. A painting does not invoke these ‘suppressed experience memories’ in the same way as a photograph does. And neither does a black and white image! 🙂

To conclude and add in my thoughts on why I think a colour photograph makes for a much more compelling piece of wall art, it is simply this;

Colour holds a magical quality, and prompts introspection, simply because as humans we see the world in colour. Our memories are colour. We dream in colour. The past and present collide as we experience the ‘frozen reality’ paradigm’ that is a photograph.

In the case of this image, the colour ‘black’ plays an intrinsic part in creating a slight sense of unease. It’s not just the birds that create this, but rather our association to their colour and how they contrast with the soft muted tones within the setting they are found. Human possess a strong physiological association to black.

Black the colour, sadly gets rendered superfluous in a black and white image. It’s merely rendered as a tone. And tones have a less significant impact on our emotions than ‘colour’.


Written by Richard Mark Dobson / The RMD Gallery

The Existential Artist. “The Vibe is the Narrative, the Narrative is the Vibe”