Every photograph tells a story. Some are strong and obvious and some, subtle. If the Photographer has made the image for commercial purposes or for news, then hopefully the story is obvious for the context in which it refers. If the Photographer is creating the image as fine art, then he has a lot more room to play with in terms of the content. The story may not be so obvious and takes a little investigation on the viewers part. Often with these kinds of images the story can evolve on a personal level and have a wide universal appeal. The viewer often puts the image together like a puzzle where the pieces have many different fits. As long as the image
feels complete, it allows them to kindle a personal story from the ambiguity in visual elements. The apparent meaning of the photograph is not forced upon the viewer. Images that are rich in Juxtapositions that play with scale and strange subject matter can create ambiguity, but it’s important to still have a level of familiarity. If the viewer is so confused and cannot create a cohesive image, they may become disinterested and move on. If there is a sense of balance the person can delve deeper into the image and come back to it over and over again. Down the road the image may have a whole new meaning because of new experiences that become significant and relatable to the photograph. If I were to equate these types of photographs to music, Neil Young comes to mind often using ambiguous lyrics and paints a picture with almost unlimited ways to be interpreted. For me, his song Old Man, keeps having new significance in my life. Having just turned thirty seven years old I think I will play that song again and see what Neil has to say this time.