sometimes a chair is just a chair

This is not a political blog, and my opinion is worth somewhere between zip and nada, however I want to talk about the controversial TIME cover photo….

I have done some advertising photography, and there is a psychology of portraying your subject in such a way as to evoke emotion. Using blueish tones to convey cold, for example. Using shooting distance, angle of view, lighting direction, and many, many other factors are what makes photography a true Art, capable of controlling emotions beyond the mere subject matter.

But I am reminded of a critique session in college. The assignment was something like “perspective” or “point of view”. We all took photographs from down low, up high, or from another unusual angle, except one image of a back alley. We spent a lot of time discussing whether the image showed the economic decline of society with garbage and rundown roads, whether the fences symbolized our desire to ignore the problems we face, the alley was a “road to nowhere” and on and on. we spent most of an hour debating the brilliance of the photograph. Finally the professor asked who’s photo it was, and asked what were his thoughts as the artist and creator…. “I was just trying to line up those two roofs…”

Sometimes a chair is just a chair….