Giving life to an image

First, let me wish you a happy New Year. I hope you had a great time over the festive and New Year period and let's together look forward to the New Year ahead. My celebrations were relatively low key this year. I spent New Year's Eve in the company of good friends and watched the midnight fireworks display in Brisbane City. New Year's Day I went to the cinema to see the excellent 'Secret Life Of Walter Mitty'.

'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty' follows Ben Stiller's character, Walter Mitty, who is a full time daydreamer and Negative Assets Manager at 'Life Magazine'. The magazine is due to cease print production and as such Mitty works in conjunction with Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn), a Photojournalist, to produce the final cover image for the last print edition. The negative, which O'Connell recommends to Mitty as the 'quintessential' Life magazine image, disappears and Mitty begins a journey to locate and retrieve the missing negative (negative 25). This movie is fun, easy going and well produced. Mitty travels to some absolutely amazing places in Greenland and Iceland, two places that are on my future travel to list. It has an excellent soundtrack too. If you haven't already seen it then I highly recommend it. It's brilliant!

Before I saw the movie, I read about a particular scene concerning one of Mitty's daydreams. Here, whilst looking at a photo of O'Connell, Mitty is beckoned into the image. I heard about this moment through the blog of one of my favourite photographers (David DuChemin - DuChemin describes this moment as O'Connell inviting Mitty in, wanting him to stop watching other people's adventures and live his own. This is absolutely correct and Mitty does go on to have his adventure. I looked at it a little differently though: when I saw that photo come alive for the couple of seconds that it does, it made me consider, what if my images could come alive? What would they say? What would the reaction of the viewer be?

In the couple of days that have passed I've begun to revisit some of my favourite images, both my own and those of the photographer's that I greatly admire. I have looked at the images and imagined how they would feel, what they would tell the viewer. Whilst technology doesn't allow for our images to come to life (except the video camera!), there are ways in which we as photographers can use our craft to make an image invoke a feeling or a thought and sometimes even allow the viewer to imagine what it was like to be there and capture a scene before their own eyes. There are a variety of techniques that we can use, from the traditional photography skills of creative composition and lighting, creative aperture, shutter speed settings and metering techniques through to the processing of images with the different types of photo editing software and plugins available.

There's no right or wrong way of creating an image with depth or feeling and you can use any one or all of the above techniques in order to achieve your desired result. By taking a moment to consider how we can give life to our images either before, during, or after the in-camera stage, we can create a stronger photograph. A photograph that stands out from the crowd. A photograph that comes alive. 

This is my goal in 2014; to continue to make stronger photographs, to try and make them come alive. 


The moment where Sean O'Connell welcomes Walter on his journey. (The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty)

The moment where Sean O'Connell welcomes Walter on his journey. (The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty)