The symbolic meaning of (en)Visionography – Fine art photography as “self-portraiture”
An analysis of my new image Persona Black in my series “Ode to Black | Black Hope”, where I will explain how we can use vision to create an image showcasing ourselves and creating more than just an image of the subject we are shooting. This image is possibly the last in the series, since I have some new ideas now that I want to work on and they are quite different from what I was doing here. Hope I can show you something soon.
THE MEANING OF THE IMAGE TITLES IN ODE TO BLACK | BLACK HOPE SERIES – THE JUNGIAN ARCHETYPES
You might have noticed, the titles of the images in these series are related to the Jungian Archetypes. The main Jungian Archetypes (Self, Anima, Animus, Shadow, Persona) are replicated in the titles of the images: Self Black, Anima Black, Animus Black, Shadow Black and Persona Black.
What are the Jungian Archetypes? They are according to their creator Carl Jung, a Swiss psychiatrist and psychotherapist who founded analytical psychology, elements of human thought that can be found in the “collective unconscious”, meaning basic symbols taken out of life that are common to all humans regardless to their nationality, gender level of culture, geographic location or else. Because they are common they represent the essence of human psycho and can be understood by everyone at a deep subconscious level at least, if not even in a conscious way.
TRANSLATING THE SYMBOLIC MEANINGS OF THE VISION INTO AN IMAGE
I have taken inspiration from the Archetypes of Jung because this series is something more than just a study in photography. I could call it a study in photography/psychology/life and it is a very personal interpretation of the subjects you see and also an interpretation that has to do with expressing very personal thoughts and reactions to the world around me and to the things that I come in contact with.
I may say that with this series I transcended the position of an observer that is simply taking photographs and even of the one that is taking photographs and processing them trying to show the world he sees. In this series, I am the one who takes the image from the outside world and totally transforms it to suit me and my vision 100%.
USING FINE ART PHOTOGRAPHY TO MAKE A “SELF-PORTRAIT” OF THE ARTIST THROUGH HIS IMAGES, REGARDLESS THE SUBJECT OF THE IMAGE
In a way, I might say that what I am doing here is a series of “portraits” of myself. These images can be considered self-portraits.
While working on these images I felt like instead of the building I was photographing I would put myself in front of the camera and tripod, though not my apparent self, but the one that cannot be seen with naked eye. It is probably very hard to explain all the things these images contain, this is why they are much more important for me than will ever be for anyone else who will see them.
These images can be considered the best example of (en)Visionography I could give and also of self-portraiture, as strange as it might seem to use this term for what I do.
This process could be called “self-(en)Vsionography” and I think with this term I can cover very much of what this study is.
You can find out more about (en)Visionography from my video tutorial Long Exposure, Architecture, Fine Art Photography – Creating (en)Visionography.
I had in mind at some point to do a series of self-portraits telling a story, but in the end, I realized that I could do this much better using these buildings instead of myself. And it worked because I identified myself totally with my subjects with the result that they were able to tell the story much better than I could ever do it. I’m not going to interpret or give details about my thoughts behind these images, I think more important is the result, but I am wondering what Mr. Jung would have to say about this series.
Fast forward to 2018, I did create a series of self-portraits with this principle of “self-(en)Visionography” in mind. The series is called Vipassanã, which means Mindfulness in the Buddhist philosophy, and it is (surprise) not a black and white series but a color one. This is where you can see the images in the series.
CREATING THE IMAGE – WORKING WITH TOPAZ BW EFFECTS
Now, leaving the (en)visionographic side, let me talk about more earthly things, like processing aspects.
I had started to process this image using except for PS also SEP2, but at some point I (re)discovered Topaz B&W Effects 2 (I had worked in the past with B&WE1 but had not used the version 2 till a couple of months ago) and I must say that I’m more and more delighted about what one can do with B&WE2. If you remember my review on it https://www.juliaannagospodarou.com/topaz-labs-bw-effects-2-full-review/ I was saying there that I was impressed by the presets of this program (and mind you, I’m not a preset person). Well, I’m still impressed about them, but also about a lot other things, for instance, how easy is to check the gray tones you cover in your image (which I do a lot and I think it’s a vital aspect of good processing) by using the zone system graphic and how easy is to work with different intensities of black and white.
I recommend you to play with “Adaptive Exposure” in the Conversion panel of BW Effects, it can give you very subtle results in dealing with tones. Also, don’t forget to check out the presets, you’ll surely like at least some of them.
If you want to go further, there’s a new Topaz plugin that I have tried and that has a very large range of possibilities of applying different looks to the image, many types of B&W looks too and all are very easy to be personalized. The name of the plugin is ReStyle.
You probably know by now, you can get a 15% discount to any of the Topaz plugins or all together if you use my name “juliaannagospodarou” as a code and order from this link https://topazlabs.com/shop/ref/49/ Go check them out! They are all brilliant!
Exposure and EXIF
307.0 sec. @ f/9, @ 10mm, ISO 100
Camera: Nikon D7000
Lens: Nikon 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 ED AF-S DX.
Black and white processing – Photography Drawing (PhtD)
TOPAZ LABS 15% DISCOUNT FOR MY STUDENTS AND FOLLOWERS
Topaz Labs was so kind to not only feature my work so many times and participate in my workshops, but they also gave me a discount code for my students and followers who are reading this blog and want to use the best software available in their post-processing work. You can use my special code JULIAG to get 15% discount for any of the Topaz plugins, separately or the whole collection. You can use the code by ordering at this link. Enjoy!
FURTHER STUDY RESOURCES
FINE ART BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY, ARCHITECTURE PHOTOGRAPHY, LONG EXPOSURE PHOTOGRAPHY
You can find more resources about fine art black and white photography, (en)Visionography, long exposure photography and architecture photography in my extensive collection of photography tutorials. To receive my future tutorials directly via email you can subscribe to my website.
Learn more about how to create fine art photography, from vision to processing and the final image in my book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography, in my video course From Vision to Final Image – Mastering Black and White Photography Processing and in my video tutorial Long Exposure, Architecture, Fine Art Photography – Creating (en)Visionography, or by attending one of my workshops.
To study with Julia Anna Gospodarou personally, find out about our
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Julia Anna Gospodarou is an internationally acclaimed award-winning photographer, an architect with a Master’s degree, a best-selling author, and a highly sought-after educator, teaching workshops and lecturing around the world. Founder of (en)Visionography™ and creator of Photography Drawing™, author of the best-selling book From Basics to Fine Art – Black and White Photography, multiple times awarded in the most important photography competitions worldwide (Two-Time International Photography Awards IPA Photographer of the Year 2016 & 2021, World Photography Awards SWPA Top 10 Finalist, and Hasselblad Masters Top 10 Finalist, as well as 100+ more awards), widely published internationally in books and magazines, Julia is passionate about art and photography and striving to spread the ideas of fine art photography and (en)Visionography all over the world.