what makes us think a picture to be beautiful?

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by Jerry, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. Jerry

    Jerry TPF Noob!

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    Hi, I'm new.

    I would like to know what you think of if and what could be the most fundamental aspect of a photo which makes you in the first place, think its beautiful and secondly, to what extent would that also hold in general. Would other people also be visually 'aroused' by those same features? Its ok if you think this is nonsense. Thats fine by me, and I think we could still be good friends, but if you have any ideas regarding the subject, please do tell.
    An example could be that certain contrasts tend to attract the human eye more than others (what type of contrasts?). Anyway, be creative.

    Cheers,
    Jerry
     
  2. stick35

    stick35 TPF Noob!

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    I don't think there is a right answer to the question.

    That is what makes photography so addictive. There are so many aspects involved that the combinations are endless. Color, Black and White, zoom, wide angle, macro, depth of field, soft focus, sharp focus, aperture, exposure, human, nature, sky, water... it goes on forever.

    If you look around the posts here you'll notice that the same picture can generate 10 totally different opinions. Some will love it, some hate it and some are neutral.

    Sorry if I rambled a bit... I'm new to it all too and I am just loving it!
     
  3. Jerry

    Jerry TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the ramble, Stan. I appreciate it.

    To be honest though, I was searching for something deeper. It's hard to explain, but let me give an example, or rather analogy, from a totally different area: linguistics. There is a theory about language which states that there some universal grammar behind all known languages. There are probably quite a few people among you who are somewhat familiar with different languages and consequently with their differences and in this case more importantly their shared features. There's a guy named Chomsky who thinks there's some universal mechanism behind all forms of natural languages (not java or c or anything like that), which should explain those similarities. Now, to return to my question again, what would be the grammar behind what people would think is beautiful or not? Can such innate thing be pinpointed? I hope I made myself clearer this time.

    Nevertheless, I agree with you for a large part on the "what people think is beautiful is subjective" kinda answer. I was just wondering whether something could be passing my mind without being aware of it, so to speak.
     
  4. terri

    terri Administrator Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Hi Jerry, I think we retreat into the simplistic "beauty is in the eye of the beholder" because our responses to all art, not just photography, are subjective and will always remain so.

    I think I get what you're trying to state about the universal mechanism behind all languages, but does this apply to our visceral reactions to art? Or is the fact that art induces a visceral reaction, regardless of whether it's positive or negative the one common "universal" mechanism you're thinking of in this instance?

    I get a headache when I try to decipher my reactions to photography. I can't explain why I prefer B&W images to color, for instance. It just, IS.

    Sorry, I don't think I've been at all helpful. :D
     
  5. Jerry

    Jerry TPF Noob!

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    Yes, our responses are subjective, but only to the extent that we can consciously reason about them. Like when I present you with a picture and ask you to say why you (dis)like it. Your reasoning behind the answer would be the subjective part, the part that you control - assuming that you can actively control your own opinion. The other part would be the unconscious part. The part which influences, or rather forms, your opinion in a way which you can't directly control. The part which I'm looking for.

    I meant the first, and in part my response to your first comment makes that clear. At least, I hope so.
    Moreover, assuming that the theory about language (the universal grammar) is correct, i think it will also hold for other functions of the brain. And in this case, the interpretation of pictures, or more general, of images. In other words; my guess is that the existence of a universal grammar would imply the existence of a universal mechanism for interpretating images.

    You've been more helpful than you think. I just realised that if there would be such a thing happening in your brain you wouldn't be aware of it, and reasoning about it would make as much sense as asking a blind man for his opinion on Man Ray. Thanks for the help. :)
     
  6. havoc

    havoc Jedi something or other

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    The philosophy of photography? Your too deep for me, it makes me feel like we are being asked to answer your homework, in which case i would be cheating you out of your education to answer any further.
     
  7. Jerry

    Jerry TPF Noob!

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    Damn you! :wink:
     
  8. MuffinJuice

    MuffinJuice TPF Noob!

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    on a simple view theres probly a few basic reasons why one may like a picture.


    the complexity, or lack of complexity in a picture. ie. the difference between taking a picture of the gears in a clock as opposed to shooting a rose on a piano. one is amazing by perplexity one by simplicity. maybe a rose on the paino means something to you, when you see a rose you think Love, when you see a piano you think of the one you Love playing it, (for me anyway) but maybe you hear your favorite song.

    many things dont have to be conscious either. you might not no you think about it.

    some pictures of like waterfalls or something, you can hear and smell the water. it may look so surreal, you imagine heaven or whatever you want.

    the way it draws your eye, maybe ur looking for why it draws you, but things like a road that goes on forever it seems, the way it perplexes you, you may wonder where it goes, you may wonder where the road is, how you can get there.

    sometimes its the splash of color, sometimes, you've seen a sunset in real life, and it takes ur breath away. and u see it in a picture, it takes u back to the real thing.

    on a basic level, these things are what draws us to enjoy art.

    for me, i like seeing someone show me their pictures, and the look in their eye, it reminds me of a 4 year old whose giving his mother a present, whatever it is, and is anxiously waiting for the praise for how wonderful of a gift it is, i know a lot of people who have a look about them when they show me their photography as they say this one is my favorite. iduno. i enjoy photography because i like seeing people doing enjoyable things.
    thats why i like music and any art, because it gives me something, to see people doing what they love, and any result of a heartfelt activity deserves praise.
     
  9. bogleric

    bogleric TPF Noob!

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    this sounds like a hundred year debate of what makes art good or great.....

    There really is no answer but to capture something in an extraordinary way.
     
  10. Synergy

    Synergy TPF Noob!

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    I think that what it boils down to is an emotional response, What feeling does the picture provoke in the viewer and how do these feelings relate to the viewers life and experiences? This could determine weather or not he or she will at least like the picture. Generally I would expect someone to describe a relaxing tranquil soothing island sunset as beautiful if that person lives a hectic life in a city! On the other hand a person who lives on that island might find the skyline of New York particularly Beautiful.

    I think there are some things that we all as humans find beautiful, like the opposite sex, or perhaps things like sunshine but I think it boils down to a fundamental emotional response

    I hope that deep enough for you!!


    Synergy
     
  11. Jerry

    Jerry TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the replies guys. Even though I won't respond to all your posts I still appreciate them. I love your almost poetic approach, Muffinjuice. And Synergy, i think its deep enough (and i agree on the influence of previous experiences). Bogleric, I'm not trying to define good art (or what makes art good), although the difference may be a subtle one.

    Thinking about these experiences btw; what if you were able - somehow (hypothetically speaking) - to remove (minimize) the influence experiences have? Possible experiments could be presenting subjects with Rorsach pictures (the inkblots) and asking which of them they like, or asking patients who have lost their memories what images they like.

    hmmm...anyway, thanks for the food for thought

    cheers
     

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