So in practical terms, how exactly do you photograph a phrase? It is fine and dandy to write about photographing a phrase but when you are out in the field taking pictures how do you actually photograph a phrase?
The way I do photograph a phrase is to mutter to myself. That’s right, mutter, as in talking to myself. That’s what I do when I’m wandering- mutter, mutter, mutter. Mutter left, mutter right, mutter all over the place. I’m a muttering fool. This is not going to surprise many of you (unfortunately!).
Muttering has a bad reputation, a behavior pinned to dottering old fools and raving lunatics- sounds pretty much like photographers to me! I’m here to revitalize muttering’s reputation- Mutterers unite!
I mutter mostly about whatever catches my eye and I mutter to try to precisely describe whatever it is that my eye catches on. In other words, ask yourself what you like about what you are seeing and then photograph one answered phrase at a time.
Here’s an example of my muttering: “Oh look! There’s a bright piece of ice under that stranded berg- what is the phrase? Bright ice is too limited- no context- makes it an abstract. Not interested in abstract at the moment. Maybe I should include the ice above it- looks like a tunnel, an ice tunnel. ‘Blue ice tunnel’ is the phrase.”
So in my camera all I do is frame up all that is ‘blue ice tunnel.’ I don’t include anything else other than ‘blue ice tunnel’- just that phrase. If my eye catches on something else (sure to happen) then I have to have the discipline to remind myself that it is another picture. Every time I mentally start linking phrases together (using “and”) I have to remember that every “and” represents a new picture. If you don’t do this, if you don’t take a picture at every “and” your perfect little phrases turn into a tangled visual paragraph and a sloppy, disappointing photo.
There are lots of great phrases in a paragraph but they are lost in all the words. Let them live by themselves- free your little phrases! Your compositions will soar and you’ll be a fellow muttering fool.