Words About Pictures

My mentor and photography coach extraordinaire Don Giannatti has given his new students the assignment of writing a vision statement for their work.

I'm not in that group--I'm an old student--but I'm playing along anyway.

It's hard. I get trapped between poetic words and their literal meanings.

For example, I started off writing something about distilling a strong liquor of emotions out of an image, a scene, a set, a view. But then I looked up the actual definition of distilling, and it turned out to mean vaporizing and separating. 

Not what I had in mind.

I really mean something more like reducing a sauce: If you cook, you know that simmering intensifies and concentrates the flavors of a liquid.

I love that. But saying I'm trying to reduce images to emotions just doesn't have the right poetic ring to it.

Now that I've been working with perfume, I think I might find a good analogy there. A strong image is very much like a well-constructed fragrance: The notes of a perfume elicit memories, desires, and feelings, all by relying on associations and sensual responses--a kind of instinctual code, more powerful than language, even.