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Behind the Facade

[vision_content_box style="teal-grey" title="BEHIND THE FACADE BY ALISTER BENN"] [vision_feature icon="fa-camera" icon_color="#82c982" icon_color_hover="#ffffff" bg_color_hover="#82c982" border_color="#82c982" border_width="2px" animate="in_from_top"]Does your photography always have to be a reflection of your true self or the scene you are capturing? Alister Benn argues that photography can form a facade to the world and that this impression is something you should think about when shooting[/vision_feature][/vision_content_box]

Who am I? Am I a suit and a clean pair of shoes, punctual and articulate: or am I sleeping in the rain under a bridge in Glencoe? Am I Scottish, British or European? If I drop some money into the cup of a homeless person does that make me compassionate, or do I do that to appear compassionate? Does wearing black make me boring, or daring, a rebel or unimaginative? Who am I? You tell me. Your perspective of these things defines who you think I am.

I make photographs for a living, and I ask these questions because as soon as we share a photograph, it and we get judged. Other people rate our work, they critique it, they make suggestions for improvement based on their perspective of our perspective and on the most basic level they make a decision of “I like that”, or “I don’t like that”. Judging is endless in photography – it is photoshopped, that’s not a photograph, it’s a digital creation, if it’s not film it’s not a photograph and so on.

Much of contemporary photography is a popularity contest, which leads people to make images that in all likelihood will be popular, following the lowest common denominator principle. Judging is a fundamental of human nature – we do it all the time, usually with our first impression, which people refer to as their gut. “I always trust my gut, it’s never wrong!”

In my mind, however, I believe that photographs, just like words, can be a facade; something we choose to show someone else with our intention as a desired impact. Whether they represent the honest opinion of the photographer or the whole story is immaterial. For years I...

[vision_notification style="tip" font_size="20px"]Read the whole article inside issue 67.[/vision_notification]
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About Author

Alister Benn

Alister Benn is a full-time landscape photographer, author and guide. Having lived for over a decade in the Himalaya of Tibet and SW China, he now lives and works on the Isle of Skye with his wife Juanli Sun.

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