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The transformative power of photography

Updated: Sep 14, 2023

Can a photograph change the world? We are all builders of meanings; we always try to give meaning to things, to the events of our life, to our thoughts.

And when words become heavy, complicated, unheard or we are unable to give voice to what we hear, we use one medium that has always accompanied humanity: artistic language in all its forms.

New work: Fine Art photography print made by Loredana Denicola and Samantha Zenou
New photography work: Fine Art photography print made by Loredana Denicola and Samantha Zenou

Art has always fulfilled various functions and is certainly the most mystical way for man to connect two worlds: the visible and the invisible.

It is the manifestation of a change, an energy that manifests itself in the creative process and reaches its peak in the final representation, a new "objective reality".

In the creative process, artist connects himself to his symbolic world, shaping it, to the point of giving it a shape that defines his thinking.

Following Winnicott's thinking, the product becomes a transitional object, an intermediate area between the self and the external world, between internal and external. That object becomes the recipient of different parts of the self and performs cognitive and creative functions.

Can a photograph change the world?

Almost certainly yes, at least in part; surely it can change who observes it and who has taken the photograph.

According to psychoanalysis, the camera - understood as an extension of one of the perceptive organs of the psychic system, that is, sight - has the power to connect the photographer with the outside world.

In order to photograph, the photographer must be able to go outside himself/herself and create a link between his/her inner world, the representations of the latter and what surrounds him/her. Furthermore, he/she is the only one who will decide what to immortalise of his/her reality, performing an act of reproduction and recreation.

It is evident how the camera's lens always focuses on the inner world at least as much as the outer one of the photographer, but however rich in details a photograph will never be able to return what the photographer has experienced, as a perceptive act in the moment of shooting.

Here then is the point of view.

No longer just images made by an external observer, but a story that comes from within.

And this principle is also valid for the user of that image. An image always contains a gaze, or more precisely a double gaze: that of the person who produces it and the gaze of the observer.

While the content / subject of the photograph remains the same, the person looking at it evolves, is changeable. The meaning of a photograph is not fixed and absolute but adapts itself to the individual experience and perspectives of the person who enters into a relationship with the image itself.

Our "iconic imagery" changes and is activated every time we enter into a relationship with a photograph, an image.

Everyone has their own "inner language" to categorise reality and code their experiences.

So photography becomes a tool for "capturing" and "expressing ideas and feelings" in a visually symbolic way and becomes a powerful personal metaphor.

Photographs are nothing more than screens on which we project our identity and our memory, that is, what we are made of and what we do not know about us.

During the perceptive act of a photograph we have the merit of "extending the life" of the original image by re-signifying it with our personal emotional meaning and our individual history.


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