Many photographers are plagued by the task of taking our rich, 3-dimensional world and flattening it onto the 2-dimensional surface of a photograph. This process is, after all, inherently distorting. When I first started snapping pictures with my first SLR, I used the medium as a way of reminding myself of those moments that I photographed. However, I found myself struggling to convey those images well enough to allow others to place themselves in that moment as well. Limited by the flattened image and lack of social context, how does one place the viewer in the world within the photo? I have the benefit of memory, but the viewer does not. As I have grown to accept the limitations of photography, I simultaneously must depend on the creative process of viewing a photograph. Thus, I must accept that by hiding certain elements from the viewer, they are forced to fill this information in themselves. The viewer creates the social context and imagines those things that you have allowed to fall into shadow or be swallowed by highlights.
The above photograph was taken on Marmara Island which is a two-hour ferry ride off the coast of Istanbul. Considered a liberal vacation spot for Turks, the locals were extremely friendly towards travelers, and the beaches were filled with a mixture of bikini-clad women working on tans, and more traditional ladies in full-body "burqinis." However, being American makes you rather exotic in these parts, as many locals confessed they had not seen another American on the island in years. I am hesitant to reveal this little gem of a town on this blog as the idea of it becoming spoiled by hoards of western travelers trying to soak up its genuine charm worrisome. However, as it is a bit off the beaten path, I believe that only the most true-hearted of travelers would seek its silky shores.
In developing this photo, I wanted the background to fade into shadow to help convey the richness of the contents of this booth. Although there were many of these types of merchants along the seaside promenade, each one was jam-packed with incredible little trinkets, bits of hand-made soaps, local hand-picked herbs and ground spices, and locally harvested and pressed olive oils. Thus, each booth felt like a world unto itself, and it was all too easy to get lost in its items while strolling around with a belly full of fish. So, although I have hidden information in this photograph, I believe that these decisions have made the experience of viewing it more authentic to the actual moment in which it was taken.