I’m beginning a project called Picture Poems. Simply put, it’s a way to collect, gather, and present small groups of images.
Picture Poems is inspired by an assignment I struggled with when I was in college. The assignment was to make a single image that acted as a poem.* I’m pretty sure I failed miserably, but then again, I never was a good student. Since then, I’ve constantly been striving to discover the poetic elements and potential of images. Is it possible to make an image that feels wet, not merely by showing something that is wet? How about softness or delicacy? Is it an image of a light touch on the arm? Or is it an image of something the viewer knows the sensation of? Can images convey the same meanings if they don’t show anything easily identifiable?
Picture Poems is my attempt at wordless poetry. By spending time in and observing one location, gathering up images, and distilling the nature of the space as I experience it, I hope to show the beauty of what is both obvious, as well as what might be overlooked, or missed completely. These days, we rarely allow ourselves the time to slow down, disconnect from our screens, and simply exist in a space. As a photographer, I see the camera as having an enormous potential to show us all the joys of slowing down.
This marks the first Picture Poem. Presented here, it is a multimedia product. The element of time makes it a video, while audio recordings made in the field help to immerse the audience into the space where the images were made.
But I need your help. These images (video below) were not intended to exist only in the digital realm. My goal is to make many of these picture poems. Dozens, possibly hundreds if I can. I have long admired the humble folio, a collection of loose prints presented in folded paper. It might be to photography what chapbooks are to poetry. Small windows into somewhere else, joined together by a simple theme.
Each of these folios will contain a loose (unbound) collection of 8-10 open edition prints. I’ve narrowed down this first selection to 14 images. It would be a great help if you could comment which images you react strongest towards. A simple number, or list of numbers in the comments section would suffice. Or if you prefer, you can message me privately. Thank you all very much, and I hope you have seen something that brings you joy.
– In gratitude
S. R. Shilling
* One of the best photographer poets I admire, Ranu Jain jharokha, happens to be a very good friend of mine. Please, do go and spend some time with her work. You will not regret it.
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