The Subject & The Picture

With most art projects, the initial idea never comes out on the other side unscathed. It transforms and takes on a new meaning, usually for the better; this series is no different. It began with the exploration of an emotion and ended with an epiphany regarding the difference between a photograph of a brief moment in time and the moment itself.

The Subject & The Picture initially sought to examine anger because of my special relationship to it. Throughout my life, my passion has been misconstrued as anger, while my actual anger has drawn shock, contempt and dismissal, with the resounding leitmotif that “anger is unfeminine.” By prompting a verbal dialog with each subject and asking they remain emotionally open, I went about documenting their own experiences with anger.

As the series progressed however, Cartier-Bresson’s idea of “the decisive moment” kept coming to mind—that, as the shutter closes, it is not so much the dramatic climax as it is the visual one. The final images told not a pure and unadulterated version of each subject’s experience, they were something different. I was struggling with feeling as if I had failed to capture their essence, when I came across this quote:

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” - Ansel Adams

I realized that my voice, interpretation and vision were those final elements that changed each image. It was my job as the photographer to not simply see the reality that's in front of me, but to see the invisible picture. I realized my subjects' voices were not lost, but rather, translated through my personal understanding.

© Gracie Hagen 2016