PHOTOGRAPHY: Seeing Simple Scenes Differently

Cafeteria Seating at Schipol – ilagardien©engagé

By Ismail Lagardien

There are times when the simplest, the most every-day scene, stands out, and presents itself – intact. There were any number of these arrangements (above) at a cafeteria at Schipol Airport.

What makes photography special is that the most ordinary, the most banal scenes almost create themselves, and present themselves intact in the photographer’s mind. This, surely, is the power that lies where the creative impulse and the gesture of photography intersect, and when the photographer captures something that everyone looks at every day, but sees it differently and does something more than.

Brutalist architecture of the University of Johannesburg. ilagardien©engagé

On the beachfront, were I live in Port Elizabeth, there are everyday scenes that, when isolated from its surroundings, photography thrives, as much as it does, on decontexualisation. This is one of the reasons why photographs often need a good caption. Below is an everyday scene on the beachfront in Port Elizabeth.







Lines and Angles

Black and white photography is very often simply about shadows and light and how they create or accentuate shapes. In this sense, it can be said, of course, that colour photography is, essentially, about colours…. This takes nothing away from social documentary work, which is in a special class.

Sometimes shapes, in the case of this photograph, below (made with iPhone) lines and angles, reveal themselves. Other times you have to actually make them appear in a frame that is isolated (very briefly, and rarely objectively) from the sights and sounds of the world, and present them somewhat intact.