Out of the Fog
Symbolism reveals or foreshadows secrets, thoughts, and stories. In photography, symbolism can offer multiple narratives that can both by intriguing and mysterious. Our cultural and personal knowledge of symbolic visual elements guides our understanding and helps us associate what we are seeing with meaning. Personal experiences in writing and visuals have a powerful way of relating a common human experience. We can both connect to that experience and consider its impact, while also appreciating the creative elements that were chosen to relate that meaning.
The topic of self-worth is something that cannot be measured in scientific form because it is a personal view of our being. Therefore exploring this topic photographically and poetically gives on the freedom to use symbolism as a guide to understand and connect with this complex but universal topic. This series addresses a question that most people, if not all, face sometime in their lives: How can one value oneself?
Self-worth is not something that is addressed or discussed as often as it should be. Looking at yourself in a positive way can change everything that you believe and think about yourself and others. Photographic projects that use symbolism can present a truth that is often revealing, and can also force us to look at ourselves and realize that we have something to offer the world. We can find a part of who we are in the surroundings where we live. Who we are is also revealed in our motives, interests, beliefs, and missions. These things catch our attention because they resonate with part of who we are and unveil our deepest passions. Self-worth is something that can connect us to others.
Personally, I have struggled with the idea of being worthy because of my insecurities and fear that others will judge or think poorly about who I am. The only thing that has made me fully aware of the worth instilled in my life is my faith, given to me by the One who gave me new life. Many times we focus on what others think of us and not so much on what we think about ourselves. Symbolism of fog as a visual element for this series is used as a tool to illustrate one's self-worth, but also as something that is usually hidden and unclear. Through creative portraits and composites, the models are presented as if they are emerging "out of the fog" as I am revealing their thoughts on self-worth through imagery and writing.
Symbolism can be complex because it is subjective. It can be delivered through color, themes, objects, and emotion. Although it can be used throughout all forms of art, for this project, I used symbolism through photographic portraits to illustrate the idea of self-worth and the need to feel connected to others. Post-production opens up endless possibilities to present symbolism and explore human emotion. Generating symbols can lead the photo to appear surreal. It is the imaginary aspect of the work that allows us to relate to what we are seeing from a different point of view. As a creative tool, it is most powerful as it can tell a story without using words or showing direct actions. It can also show multiple definitions and narratives because art is subjective and says many different things to individual viewers. Used in poetry, symbolism is an important component to produce a visual picture in the reader's mind. Photographic symbolism is the opposite. It visually displays the scene, but the viewer is given the opportunity to create the script. As an element that grounds the photo, symbolism submerges the curious viewer in the work, washing themes and plots on the shore of his or her mind.
Out of the Fog is a series that brings out the hidden thoughts of self-worth among individuals. Created with elements of mystery, surrealism, and dramatic qualities, symbols are used in each image to represent the idea of self-worth. Intertwined in the photos are the models' perspectives of who they are, what their values are, as well as how they doubt themselves and what keeps them from being positive. Symbolically, fog represents confusion, danger, and the unseen. Joseph Panek writes,
Fog is a thick cloud that confounds us and causes us to lose our sense of direction. These ideas of fog pertain not only to the element of fog in the physical world, but also to the metaphor for fog in our mental world. When referring to the mental realm, we have cliches that serve as metaphors to describe the confusion and uncertainty that the cloud of fog represents. Metaphors such as, His judgment was clouded or Her mind was in a fog describe the confusion and lack of clarity that bagel us when we try to make decisions without being able to see all the facts.
Fog can also represent danger as it hides things from us, like truth.
The project started off with interviews of all the models. The interviews were done in order to get to know each person individually. It also gave each one the time to express who he or she is and how each one sees him or herself. This interaction became a significant factor for developing ideas for makeup, location, expression, and final editing. My interaction with the models inspired the look for each symbolic photo. Poems were then accompanied with each set of photos to further challenge the viewer in their interpretation.
Out of the Fog presents the hidden truths and untold or never-before-analyzed perception of self-worth. Through creative, symbolic photographs, the goal of this project was to make positive self-worth visible and clear. I hope the viewers can relate to the visual and narrative content, while challenging themselves to examine their own self-worth. It is my hope that viewers will be motivated to explore their own self-worth and examine the worth and value instilled and present in their lives.