With no horizon line to anchor the picture or the viewer, they have no ‘up’ or ‘down’ creating a strange sensation of disorientation and abstraction. Stieglitz said “I have a vision of life and I try to find equivalent for it sometimes in the form of photographs” he later said “equivalent of my most profound life experience drawing on the symbolist notion of synthesis the possibility of suggesting one thing by meaning of another”.

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He made his series of Equivalents as a response to a critic who believed that he had some kind of hypnotic power over his subjects, and claimed therein lay his photographic talents. Affronted, he set about to prove unequivocally that he could take good pictures of other things, things that couldn’t be hypnotized by his lens. He turned his camera upwards and looked to the sky, to the clouds.

Stieglitz wrote that “I have a vision of life and I try to find equivalents for it.” In good times and bad, he photographed clouds to express his emotional states. He felt that his cloud photographs had the power to transport viewers into the same emotional state he was in when he made the photograph. This is definitely an influence upon my work as I stated in my proposal the desire to communicate the emotional ideals and evolvement with the concept, similarly to Stieglitz.

The patterns of the clouds provide a feeling of passive relaxation and serenity, even though there is a great amount of contrast in shades from light to dark. In his “Equivalent” from 1930, the clouds give the viewer the impression of relaxing flames that are rising from the bottom left corner and are reaching toward the right. They tend to balance the photograph, in that since the cloud formations are angled; there isn’t a portion of the picture that seems too heavy. The photograph, in fact, seems balanced because this creates movement within it. This also frames the photograph on the right, although there are no actual objects there. The movement is what gives the illusion of a frame on the right. The clouds in the photograph are also in sharp focus, as the viewer can see every detail in the sky.

Although Stieglitz has used a differing source of natural forming shapes the main principal behind the desired visual outcome is incredibly similar. It was this work of Stieglitz that drove me to my experimentation with other sources of natural forming shapes, in which I will be shooting smoke under studio conditions.

Ansell Adams once said regarding the equivalents series:

“One can hear great music in the environment of nature with almost religious devotion”

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