Thursday, April 17, 2008

level 3

I was taught once, that there are three levels for categorizing photographic images.

Level 1- Descriptive

Every photo describes something. A red wall. A foot. Black teeth. Easy enough to grasp. Every photo every taken is a level one photo, it has to describe something...even if only to describe light and dark.

Level 2- Story Telling

Level 2 photographs tell a story. There are verbs in these images. A man painting a red wall. A foot being stepped on. Black teeth chewing on meat (gross..sorry). Not every photo is a story telling image, but if you succeed in creating one, you have taken it above only the descriptive and are entering the realm of photojournalism.

Level 3- Emotional

Evoke emotion. What good is any piece of art if it doesn't make you feel? I don't care if you hate, cry, feel uncomfortable...or maybe even experience some surreal state of euphoria. What good is living if you don't feel something? What good is art if it doesn't change you? If I was really trying to create an image I loved, I would always look to make it a level 3. Level 3's matter. While the 1's and 2's are nice and pretty and important in their own right, the 3's change you. I want to be changed.

The reason I went off on that photojournalism 101 lesson was because I've been thinking about those pesky level 3's. The tricky part to a level 3 is that most times it's subjective. Others feel what others don't.....also if you are there, or have experienced what the picture shows, this may give you an unfair advantage when it comes to connection with any given image.

When I look at my Colombia images I feel things. When editing through some of them yesterday I even got teary eyed. I don't expect that everyone (or anyone) will have the same response as I did because I was there. I held the baby, whispered the song in her ear. I kissed the hurt finger put in front of my face to make it all better. I saw the beds and smelled the roads. I touched hands and kissed cheeks.

My greatest hope is that I am not the only one that feels something... I honestly believe that my photography is pointless if it doesn't push emotion...but don't get me wrong I take tons of descriptive images. I love signs and details and colors and walls....but I would be lying if I said taking those images made me feel purposeful.

The whole purpose of me going to Colombia was to tell the story of certain people, certain children in need and hopefully in the story telling effort strike a cord in the viewer to act.

Global family. Everyone is responsible. If there is just one baby in a town starving it is everyones responsibility, not just the orphaned mothers. This is the part about knowledge that I think makes most people comfortable in a state of ignorance. Knowledge means you know and knowing means you then see and seeing means you have become responsible as a resident of human earth to do something.

Colombia was a level 3 for me, I know... because I came back different.

To donate/help/learn more, visit

No comments: