What Do We See When We Look at Pictures

We look at pictures all day long, some deliberately some unintentionally. We pass by billboards, signs, flip through ads, onscreen, in newspapers, magazines, online and a host of vehicles that show them, as we scroll through our cell phones. We would be amazed if we could ever count the amount of pictures we see in a day, even without trying to. It’s easy to become jaded at visuals and maybe part if the reason we don’t see past their surface.

Pictures say things to us. They communicate without words, when we stop to listen. Some are subtle, some shout. Some may continue to say different things each time we look, and for me, those are the good ones. They’re not always beautiful and sometimes not even well done.


The Violinist from  ” The Reality of Dreams “

We were living in Florence, Italy for the summer and on weekends, various performers came to this spot in the evenings. She was my favorite one. She appeared to be more than just another Busker playing a tune, she was a true professional, or at best wanted to be. From her posture, talent and presentation , one could see she had years of training. She wasn’t playing show tunes, her symphonic performance was perfect.

I shot a lot of her from various angles and compositions. She was as beautiful as her music and I wanted to capture where and who she was however in my edit none struck me as much as this one. It fell into a series , that I gather when the right moments present themselves called ” the reality of dreams”. Based on what we dreamed of being, how we would like to see ourselves in our future, our expectations of things …and what those dreams really become.

In her moment she was on a great stage, formerly dressed, giving her performance while holding a Stradivarius, but in reality, she was sitting on the street,  giving a first class concerto that didn’t seem to matter to a crowd, for a few coins . For the most part, she may as well have been eating a hot dog.

One of the best exhibits I ever saw was in New York many years ago, “Talking Pictures”   now a book. In it, a host of people from all walks of life were asked to present the one picture, not their own, that talked to them the most. In front of each picture was a speaker for the viewer to hear their comments. It was interesting what they chose and why. They weren’t just looking at the print, they were looking into the picture. Some of what they saw in them took me a while to see, maybe not in agreement, but we all have our own viewpoint and maybe that was what that show was really about.

I could look at my picture briefly and just see a woman  playing a violin to a distracted crowd. I might also simply judge this picture good or bad by its technical execution alone but how much and how far we see into pictures is the challenging part of photographs.

This Miami photographer  now asks ” What do you see in this picture”




One thought on “What Do We See When We Look at Pictures

  1. I see the incongruous, formally dressed young violinist being ignored by everyone around. She has her case open, hoping for offerings, but apparently receiving none. Her hair, gown and posture suggest she might on another occasion be a part of an orchestra performing to an attentive audience. Why is she in this setting? Does she need the money? Does she need the experience of such exposure? Does she find it thrilling or humiliating? I would like to see the expression on her face to give me more clues. I was going to guess the location was somewhere historical in the Mediterranean, but then the Hashtags tell me its Florence, so the people in the crowd are probably tourists. If the violinist were to be very accomplished, I suspect the reaction from the people would be no different than if she had not been a player for long.

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