Ian Talbot: Retrospective – Here’s One I Made Earlier :: Marigold

Chapter 29 of the ongoing series Ian Talbot : Retrospective by British fine art photographer Ian Talbot.

Here’s One I Made Earlier :: Marigold

© Ian Talbot

“It is common for those who have glimpsed something beautiful to express regret at not having been able to photograph it. So successful has been the camera’s role in beautifying the world that photographs, rather than the world, have become the standard of the beautiful” Susan Sontag

So what does “the world” consider beautiful? Or, in this case, what does the world consider a “beautiful” photograph? For many it would seem that the two things are, indeed, one and the same. For many people saying that they like a particular photograph is really to say that they like, or find attractive or even compelling, the subject depicted. In other words they find it “beautiful” whatever that might mean. You may here object that SOME people are drawn to “ugly” subjects but it’s really all one and the same. It just means that they find “ugliness” somehow beautiful.

TA little anecdote by way of illustration… Some years ago when I lived in Vancouver, Canada an acquaintance of mine, at the mere sight of a work by Picasso (I forget which) suddenly launched into a tirade about how much she hated Picasso, using words like “vile” and “hateful”. I was actually quite shocked and felt for a moment as if I had been somehow time-warped back to the early years of the 20th century. But I digress… she then went on to say that she loved Van Gogh. It turned out, however, that she didn’t actually “love” Van Gogh but merely a single work by him. It further turned out that she didn’t actually “love” the piece either. The painting in question was Van Gogh’s “Irises” and it turned out in the end that she simply liked irises.

I don’t particularly like marigolds, in fact I had to ask my wife to confirm that the bloom depicted here WAS a marigold. Nevertheless there are worse things to photograph and I was drawn to the slightly off kilter structure of it as seen from this particular angle. The result was the passably elegant image above. Some may even find it “beautiful”.

I actually “quite like” the image… “quite liking” never being “quite” enough however. And here is the problem. How to photograph overdone and basically limited subject matter. How to bring a fresh eye to it without adding to the overwhelming stock of trite “floral images in the world that already exists. In the end I had to admit defeat and withdraw gracefully. Which is why this image remains filed under the section that includes many such images… images I don’t exactly dislike but rarely show to anybody. Images that are just “not me”. Images that don’t reflect what I want to say and/or no longer reflect what I do.

    Ian Talbot

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