Conscious or Subconscious Composition

I have been contemplating the thought process involved in the making of images. I think I can identify the type of scenes I am consciously drawn to, but am unsure whether the resulting images contain subconscious decisions in their making too.

Reflections, the back to front view of life, are one of my favourites, water, mirrors, shop windows – the quirkier the better. In the shot below, I saw it, moved into position to ensure I was out of shot, shot it and moved away – a candid in the bag. However did I subconsciously frame the shot in a particular way. In hindsight it would have been improved without the reflection of the car in shot so maybe my subconscious wasn’t attuned to the situation or maybe I was just rushing the shot.

Take this next example ‘The Lightning Man’: the thought process started with the colours. Red yellow red yellow. as the subject drew nearer the lightning bolt on his top completed the shot. Red no entry sign, red top, red cones and bollards, red at base of barrier. Yellow shirt of the cyclist.

So, I was conscious of the subject and also aware he was playing up to the camera, conscious of the colours and surroundings. The camera was preset, but was I conscious of the framing, the omissions and inclusions in the shot, the viewpoint. In the moment were these conscious decisions or does instinct take over. I’m not sure. Perhaps there is an element of both and perhaps it depends on your level of experience and I know in post production the flaws of an image become glaringly obvious, quite often for me its down to impatience and subsequently not considering the optimum viewpoint. I also know that if its a shot I particularly want to capture I panic about the camera settings and whether I will capture the desired effect so there’s always a stressy moment in the middle of the process.

Is this version better? The composition is less messy however do the elements in the previous version enhance the story? These decisions are often difficult to make and those viewing the images will most likely have different opinions on which image is stronger.

The scenes I’m drawn to include, Shooting through eg, windows, phone boxes, reflections and water shots, Fashion-Style-Individuality, chiaroscuro, Graffiti and Street Art. All of these in the context of street photography. I am consciously aware of these environments and situations but do I subconsciously seek them out? possibly yes, but also possibly I have wandered into the realms of overthinking. Lets blame this on this new lockdown and having extra time on my hands!

Thanks for reading these musings and hope you all stay safe and well.

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