Aesthetic Photography

This article was born as a starting point for a reflection on a passage from the work “Conversations with Susan Sontag” (University Press of Mississippi; 1St Edition (December 1, 1995).

The paragraph analyzes the role of photography in the 21st century, and reads as follows:

(…) I suppose the main tradition in photography is the one that implies that anything can be interesting if you take a photograph of it. It consists in discovering beauty, a beauty that can exist anywhere but is assumed to reside particularly in the random and the banal. Photography conflates the notions of the “beautiful” and the “interesting”. It’s a way of aestheticizing the whole world.

From “Conversations with Susan Sontag”, UPM, 1995.

It is an almost illuminating statement. We live in an era in which we are bombarded with images. However, the subjects we select for our images are very often unusual and sometimes devoid of any interest: our perception makes us seek beauty in a seemingly insignificant detail or glimpse. However, these are the images to which we give an almost subjective and personal meaning, as they leave room for past memories or create pleasant mental imaginaries.

The image selected to exemplify this article is a simple sign on a gray background. A sign that has nothing fascinating or significant. Yet, in photographing it, its bold writing, color, the contrast it creates with the background, make it rather interesting. An unnoticed subject has become one that captures, where a simple detail has been aestheticized.

To enlighten imagination, we seek beauty in small things, in simple details.

Ph: @ Fondazione Prada Milano


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