Selecting And Purchasing A Photograph

Text By Sal Feliciano  © All rights reserved.

You stand transfixed, unable to look away. Without realizing it, you find yourself looking, nay, staring... studying the image before you. After a few moments, you think to yourself that the image must find a place in your home.
Why? What makes you want this particular photograph? It's just a photograph, a picture like any other. Or is it? There is something about it that you cannot put your finger on. It's there on the edge of your mind clamoring, cajoling "get it, own it... you must have it."
A picture is a picture is a picture, right? So then, why do we buy photographs, or for the more enlightened, "Artistic Prints?" Why can't we just do with the ones from our latest vacation or from Aunty Mimi's dog foofie?
The reasons which compel us to place our Visa on the counter are varied. The why's of selecting a photograph are as varied as the reasons we select a mate. Choose wisely and you will have years of pleasure. Choose incorrectly and you will soon find yourself disenchanted with your union.
So then, how do we go about choosing that photograph which will be cherish for years to come? To do that we must first look at ourselves and secondly, delve into the personality of the person who made the image. For that, you must look into the soul of the image itself. So, let's look at that image as if it were a person.
The first thing you do when you see that perfect image is go, "wow". That's fine. We do the same thing when we see that perfect someone, "wow". Be it man or woman, we look at them with desire and hope. But that person has a soul, much like the photograph in question. We want to meet that person and likewise, we must meet the photograph, introduce ourselves so to speak.
"Hi, my name is Joe. I'm 5'7" and I like ice cream and movies. That's right "Joe", the first thing you need to realize is who and what you are. You are attracted to the image for a reason. Why is that? Initial meeting aside, what else connects you to it? Are you a football fan and this is a winning touchdown image? Maybe you're a fisherman and the photograph is about a bass leaping out of a chilly winter lake.
Personal interests are not the only reason you feel an attachment. Emotions are a strong force to contend with and this particular image tugs at your inner being. Look at the image; see if it brought back a certain time or incident in your life. If it jogged a memory which you had tucked away in the far corners of your mind, all the better if it was a pleasant memory. Maybe a smell came to mind, a voice or touch.
The image can also create a feeling such as anxiety, love, tenderness, hate, closeness; anything that tugs at your inner being. The emotional tug does not necessarily have to be a good one. It could squeeze your heart for all the shame it can muster as well as all the love you have to give. Or, you may feel pride for country or ethnicity. We certainly cannot disregard a feeling of triumph or the God inspired awe we hold for nature itself.
Look at the image and then look into yourself. What are the emotions you feel when you see the image? Would you like to re-live those emotions by having this work near you on a daily basis? If it were a person, would you like it in your life?
Do some soul searching as to why you are attracted to the image. Remember, it's not just a pretty face, which brings us to the next point, its soul.
When looking upon an image, you are looking into the soul of the person who made it. That person took the time to make the image for a reason. That reason is usually inspiration; the person was somehow emotionally moved to make this particular image or to select it from countless others.
The attempt at technical perfection is no doubt admirable. But the image that stands out the most is that which crosses physical barriers. The emotions which are tugging at your being; are they the same which pushed the shutter button on the camera? The scene before the photographer may have made him laugh or cry, feel pride or shame; and that is what is ultimately in the image. The photographer is attempting to convey something to you. Only you know if the message has been received and accepted.
Who is this photographer? Keep in mind that you are not just taking paper and glass to your home, but a piece of the person who made the image as well. The image which has so enthralled has done so due to the person who produced it. Realize it now or realize it later, the emotions you feel are those of the photographer introducing themselves to you. "Hi, my name is Joyce. I'm 5'5", I like romances and mother natures natural beauty."
The question was why you choose a particular photograph. Could it be the colors, textures and grace? Why do you choose a mate? Is it because of her smile, walk and suppleness of skin? The next and most important question is, why do you stay with that person? That's an easy one. You stay because of how you feel when you are around them. And that, my friend, is how you choose your photograph, simply because of how it makes you feel. Not because of age, color, texture or value, but because of the emotions that are invoked within you each time you look deep into its soul.
You will be looking upon this image day to day. Or even if it is tucked away, like a good record album, it will be brought to light for a moments pleasure or contemplation. And like good music, can you share it? Placed at home or at the office, will it be a subject of conversation? It could very well lead to a meeting with someone like minded. All it takes is for another person to feel the emotional tug as well. A question, an answer and a linking of minds.
The choice of a photograph can be as simple as turning on a faucet or as difficult as performing surgery. But no matter what you ultimately choose, it must move you. Do not choose for the sake of decoration or to fill an open spot. Choose that image which speaks to you. And when it does, listen, for it may have more to say than you think.

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