Session 12: Brief Encounter

Brief Encounter.© Knut Skjærven.

Session 12: Brief Encounter

Task Description: 

Here is an easy one. Or so it seems. You are asked to take a picture that is structurally similar to Brief Encounter above.

I shot Brief Encounter in the large gardens surrounding Schloss Charlottenburg outside Berlin in May 2011. It is one of my favorites since it at once honour a demand of simplicity, different levels of content, and it adds a new idea to the situation unfolding.

Brief Encounter is handling the situation creatively in that it combines content that was never intended to be framed in a picture. The man in the background and the lady in the foreground were never intended to be in any sort of relationship, which they have been made to be in this shot. Nor were they ever intended at once to be separated and link by a virile fountain.

The shot has that open end that makes different interpretations very possible. Some of them suggesting quite a different sort of brief encounter.

Let’s have a closer look at the image. It holds three distinct levels: level one which holds the sitting girl (foreground); level two which is comprised of the fountain (middle ground); and level three that holds the background and in particular the man walking (background). (I call the different grounds for levels and not for layers since the word layers is reserved another meaning in Street Photographer’s Toolbox).

Now you do the same.

Here is your task:

Try to recognize a similar structure when you are out there looking for good scenes to picture. In particular look for a scene that contains three distinct level: foreground, middle ground and background. Make sure that the three levels come out clean and are not cluttered with too many other contents or objects. Make it a visually simple image.

When you have done so and are satisfied with the result, load the image to your own site (I am sure you have one) and simply link to it from a comment you make to this session (session 12). If you are lucky, others will enjoy your picture and comment on it.

Suggestion:  The suggestion is that you memorize this visual concept so you are ready for it when it turns up.  It will. You have to be a ready for it when it does.

Good luck with it.

© Knut Skjærven. Alle rights reserved (text and picture).

Copenhagen, August 16, 2012.


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  1. #1 by papafranco on November 11, 2012 - 6:03 pm

    HI Knut,
    I post this photo on Brief Encounter but why not in Tandem and Tantes.
    The reason I took it is the the fact that the two people don’t probably know each other but there is the ‘photocopy’ word may be ‘the ticket’?
    I know it seems I want to find absolutely a category.
    Thanks for your comments.

    • #2 by Knut Skjaerven on November 11, 2012 - 11:35 pm

      Hi papafranco

      It is not possible for me to make comments on a random image like this. If you want feedback on your images you need to enrol in the program like all others. And follow the program :-). That is the only way that you will be able to improve your photography.


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