Don’t be afraid to use texts in your images. I do it all the time. And with great pleasure.
Texts can have positive effects on image content and bring forth ideas that, in other ways, would be impossible to have. Like in Icons and Statesmen above. You did not know that icons and statesman could be symbolically compared to empty classes, did you? Well, maybe you knew. And that the guardians were women? Maybe you knew that as well?
Texts can be used in many ways. Let me point to 3:
1) Text can be neutral and not have an explicit impact on picture content. Let’s call this indifferent text. This is probably the texts you see most of the time. It is just there and don’t add anything in particular.
2) Text can be affirmative and support and confirm the visuals in question. Let’s say you take a picture of a door and the text says “entrance”. That would be using texts the affirmative way.
3) Text can, however, be used creatively in many ways too. Let’s label this creative use of text. Text is creative if the text adds something that was not already there. If is combines existing components in a new and different way.
I don’t use the word creative randomly here. A well known definition of what creativity is, in fact, a combination of existing elements IN A NEW WAY.
Lets look at the photograph, which by the way is shot at the reopening of Museum The Kennedys, in Berlin, November 24, 2012.
Is the text in the picture used indifferently? I would say, hardly.
Is it used affirmatively, then? Could be, if you find that empty glasses are that closely connected to icons and statesmen that it is just a question of yet another confirmation of the relationship? I would say hardly even here. This shot is not as straight forward as the door and the exit sign mentioned earlier.
That leaves us with the creative use of a text. The photograph brings together something that is not already there. In the meaning that it combines and stresses elements that was never thought of in the context. That is what makes this image itching. It makes it creative.
Let me also add that when I use the word creative it is only a reference to specific way of building a message. It is not an evaluation of the photograph compared to others. Some might prefer indifferent use of text, others to use text affirmatively, and others again to use text more as a teaser to the possible creative reading of an image.
The commission is: a) Take 2 images where you use text indifferently; b) take 2 other pictures where you use text affirmatively; and c) take 2 photographs where you use text creatively and establish a possible reading of a photograph that is beyond what was already there.
When you are ready, post it all to your own site and link to your fine specimens from comments to this very post.
I am not going to interpret the possible content of Icons and Statesmen. You can do that. I am not sure that is will go well if you know someone who are in politics.
And then there is the ironic smile of the women in the right hand side. She knows everything.
Good luck with it.
© Knut Skjærven. All rights reserved: Text and Picture.
December 11, 2012.