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Your Lens, Your Mirror: The Subliminal Dialect That Framing Translates

When we pick up a camera to capture a portrait or a landscape, the choice of framing may seem, at first glance, to be a mere technical decision. But let's dive deeper and you will see that this choice is intrinsically linked to philosophical, artistic and psychological aspects. Who would have thought that deciding between a frontal, 3/4, profile or back angle would be as revealing as looking at yourself in mirror under different lights and angles? Each perspective reflects a different part of us, sometimes aspects that we don't even recognize at first glance.

When choosing the profile as our point of view, we enter a space that places us on the threshold between public and private, between what is revealed and what is hidden. Like a book opened to a single page, the profile offers a story rich in nuances and meanings, but is only a fragment of it. Just as an isolated page contains valuable information that, together with all the others, makes up the complete narrative of the book, the profile angle gives us a partial but deeply revealing view. It shows us details that, although limited, are essential to understanding the complexity and depth of the subject or scene as a whole.

With the profile perspective, we enter territory that questions the very nature of knowledge and perception. This angle acts as a reminder of our 'epistemological humility,' an awareness that we are only scratching the surface of complexity of the subject or the scene we are trying to capture. It is as if, by opting for this specific framing, we are admitting that our perspective is partial but valuable, and that there are more layers to be explored. This is a form of humility that not only recognizes the limits of our understanding but also expresses them artistically.

But perhaps you prefer the 3/4 angle puzzle, which gives us more than a pprofile but less than than a front view. Here you are venturing into a territory that oscillates between the revealed and the hidden, between complete and incomplete.

This particular angle is like a cliffhanger in a narrative, a scene that leaves us on the edge of an emotional precipice, eager for more. This is where the 'Zeigarnik Effect' comes into play, a psychological concept that describes how unfinished tasks or matters tend to linger in our memory much longer than those that have been completed.

Thus, a photo captured from this perspective works as a kind of trigger for this effect. It keeps us mentally engaged, persistently curious, as if we were on a continuous quest to fill the blank spaces. The image not only captures but also prolongs our interest, thus becoming a powerful metaphor for our eternal search for completeness and understanding

And is what we call "absurd" really that absurd? This question refers to Samuel Beckett's theater of the absurd, where simplicity scenographic and dialogue houses a complexity of themes, from existentialism to loneliness and the strangeness of human condition. Now, bring this thought to the scope of photography and consider the frontal angle. At first glance, opting for this framework may seem like choosing the most direct path, perhaps even the most obvious. But here too, frontality can be a kind of mask that defies expectations.

woman with her hands in front of her face
Photo by Koki Shootings

The captured subject or object may initially appear transparent, almost banal in its straightforward presentation. However, just as in Beckett's theater, this simplicity can be a lure that draws us into deeper exploration. We then started to notice nuances in expression, shadows that add depth, or even a setting that makes us question the true story behind the image. In this way, the frontal perspective can reveal itself to be so full of meaning and complexities, transforming into a stage where life imitates art and where art challenges our perceptions.

The back angle in photography is like the last page of a book that you never want to finish, or perhaps the final scene of a film that leaves a mystery unsolved. This is a perspective that is often overlooked in conventional portrayals, perhaps because it confronts us with the inherent vulnerability of turning our backs on the world.

Through this lens, we become silent spectators of introspective moments, capturing the subject in a state of involuntary abandonment or perhaps in a personal story that only he or she can understand.

woman with her back under the tree
Photo by Geralda de Graaf

This framing can also lead us to reflect on the idea of homesickness, which encompasses a complex range of emotions - loss, nostalgia, affection, and even an indefinite desire. Like the longing, the posterior angle reveals the emotional substance than has been left behind us, but continues to influence our identity and our choices. It piques our curiosity about paths not taken, choices avoided, and stories that occur beyond our immediate field of vision.

So when you choose a specific angle or switch between them, you're not just making a technical decision; you are articulating a vision, issuing a statement and reflecting your own way of see the world. So the next time you pick up your camera, ask yourself: What does my favorite angle reveal about me?

Written by Angela Rosana, learn more about me here.< /span>

Credits to the photographers appear in the images, with links to their respective Instagram profiles. Find out more about each person’s work!

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Published on Instagram in September 2023


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