Some of my most frustrating high school moments were in English class. Not all classes, just the ones involving discussions about what I hated most: poetry. To me the poems and the discussions were pointless and so were the hours wasted on them. Sonnets, haiku, free verse; the style didn’t matter the outcomes were always the same.
I’d stare at a page containing words which seemed forced together. Sometimes the author used too many words, sometimes too few. Often there seemed to be no clear meaning or the ideas were left open for interpretation. Whether communicating something universal or deeply personal, the author’s intent often eluded me. When it didn’t, it landed with a “so what?” or “who cares?”
As much as I still dislike poetry, I absolutely love things that are POETIC. To me poetic is an outcome while poetry seems like more of a vehicle.
When someone expresses themselves in a truly poetic way it’s impactful. It often catches me by surprise but the effect is immediate. To me, poetic outcomes are ones which:
Distills a message simply and beautifully.
Express something with which we’re familiar in extraordinary new ways.
Elevates or romanticizes the object of the author’s desire.
Makes you feel something.
Reminds you that you’re human.
Helps you better understand the world around you
Helps you better appreciate the world around you
Simply striving for the poetic outcomes when you photograph will make your images better.
Instead of forcing elements together, think about how to distill your message simply and beautifully.
Whether expressing something universal or deeply personal, make me feel something and remind me that I’m human.
Instead of creating photos that land with “so what” help me better understand or appreciate the world around me.
Maybe you write like Poe or Shakespeare but as a photographer you should ask yourself if you’re merely documenting the things around you or if you’re creating poetic outcomes?
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