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Psycho-photography: Putting Yourself in the Picture

The right hemisphere of our brain is the seat of imaginative, creative, and photographic dimensions of the mind and plays a fundamental role in dream activity.

Dreams are, in fact, both a source of inspiration and a kind of dump for everyday images, which are then reworked and recycled in a sort of "circular economy" of the mind.

The hospital is burning © Loredana Denicola
The hospital is burning © Loredana Denicola

And as creatives, we photographers continually draw from these depths, more or less consciously. Artistic activity, in general, refers to an almost underground world that has been a part of us since childhood but can also be imagined as shared with the rest of humanity.

This sharing happens through words, written narration, and traditional artistic expression (paintings and sculptures), and today, also through videos and photographs. All of this connects us with ourselves and with the world.

Every time we share one of our photos, we potentially add an extra emotion, an idea, a thought. This also explains why many times I find myself thinking that a certain portrait reminds me of Diane Arbus, or those cultivated fields seem taken from a Giacomelli photo, or Franco Fontana's work. Not to mention the painterly parallels. It's not just an "imitative" fact; it's also a psychological fact.

The thing is, most of us don't realise it because we live a frenetic life and don't pay attention to what we do; we bury everything we see in the unconscious. And the interesting thing is that often, the submerged impulses we discover in these depths we always carry with us are often negative.

How many photographers draw from these waters to create their own projects?

Sometimes, this activity is conscious.

We want to photograph something, capturing images that belong to dreams or things already seen, following a plan for creating the photograph. Other times, it's part of a deep, hidden, unconscious need that drives us to use the photographic medium without any rational thought, capturing emotions that emerge through the creation of video and/or photographic projects.

Often, creative work is an expression of profound pain.

We ache for lost peace, for violated beauty, for the darkness that runs through our depths and the world. All of us suffer. There is anguish, uncertainty, loneliness in being human; there is insecurity, jealousy, greed, envy, pain, and sometimes even beauty and compassion, almost forgotten.

Is reality truly so negative, sad, and problematic?

Certainly, it is to some extent, but we know rationally that there is much more to it. However, we can't escape the feeling that the purpose of a committed artist is to narrate the woes of humanity, and not doing so automatically makes them appear as a "less engaged" artist.

I believe that the experiences we carry with us play a fundamental role, not only as a source of inspiration but also in relation to the place in the world where we position ourselves or where we are pushed when we are distracted.

Life is composed of cycles.

Every day brings us new experiences; we are bombarded with new images, new joys, and pains that lead us to reflect and reconstruct ourselves, settling deep within our souls.

Learning to photograph means being reborn, in the truest sense of the term. It means taking all the substance we have within us and placing it within a frame. If it's painful, let it be painful; if it's joyful, let it be joyful!

As long as it truly belongs to us, it can never be an imitation, even when it "resembles the photos of..."

For form is always substance, and substance must always take form.

Photography is a passion for some, a technical skill for others, especially when we think in terms of cameras and lenses, shutter speeds and apertures, software, and accessories.

But for others, photography is therapy.

It's that dark and hidden material within us that represents the foundations of our lives. Even without realising it, that's where we draw inspiration and find ideas. The way we do it shapes the answers we receive.

It's a long and challenging process that not everyone wants to follow.

In truth, only a few truly do, especially because they may not see its utility. If I learn to photograph well, to meticulously develop my RAW files, to create a well-crafted project, why should I venture beyond the confines of such a safe harbour?

by Loredana


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