I took this photo back in September, 2013. I’d somewhat forgotten about it and hadn’t really planned on sharing it until just recently, when an old friend of mine asked if I had any pictures of the Big Buddha in Cheonan, South Korea. After digging through the archives for a while and rummaging up some snaps I’d taken of this temple, I came across this particular image.
The composition seems okay. The lighting is fine. The sky is clear and ideal for a bold infrared look. So, why hadn’t I shared it before? Maybe because I’d already shot a temple with IR film. But I feel it was more than just that. I’ve come to the conclusion that, even though the photo may be fundamentally sound, it’s still just a picture of statue – it’s a fixed, static image, albeit a peaceful one. I know I was certainly more eager to share color infrared film shots like this one or this one or these ones here. Roland Barthes might say that this Buddha image lacks punctum, that illusive detail within a photo that may seem subtle but ultimately strikes a chord with the viewer. This detail is powerful, and the audience will feel a pulse, a personal connection to the image – Barthes describes it as that ‘accident which pricks me, bruises me.’
I’m currently working with IR film for my thesis. I hope to graduate with a MA in photography, visual arts, and design this year. For my thesis, I’m really trying to create infrared images that prick at you, that you recall later on in quiet moments. I’m not ready to share those pictures with you just yet. It’s all still a work in progress. Stay tuned.
Now, I strive to create photos which have punctum and I feel that there are at least a few photos ( of hundreds ) here where I may have been successful, but capturing punctum is not something that happens easily. If you peer over the blog from time to time, I’d love to hear what you think. Is this Buddha shot lacking something? Which photos, if any at all, do you feel have punctum? Why do you feel a connection to one particular photo but not another? Do you feel no connection at all? Please leave a comment! And don’t be shy! I can handle criticism : )
Rolleiflex Automat A / expired Kodak Aerochome (2011) / Tiffen Yellow #12 filter / E6 processed as slides. Enjoy! © Patrick Bresnahan