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What’s In an Image?

February 17, 2013

Have you ever seen an image or photograph that drove you to imagine all of the circumstances leading up to the final capture of the moment?

Or, have your eyes had the experience of delivering such staggering sentiments to your brain that your body physically reacts?

These are the moments that photographers strive to capture with every flash and snap they take.  To encapsulate human and physical elements in such a way that they continue living in a static, unchanging environment is what truly makes a photographer an artist.  One such artist, Platon, has paved his own route in making the characters in his photographs seemingly divulge their darkest secrets to the viewer.

I was lucky enough to receive two tickets to the Richmond Forum this past Saturday, reveling in quite an adult affair for this recent college grad.  Dressed in my best evening wear and with curls in my hair, I waited anxiously in my red, plush seat in the historic Landmark Theater.  Unsure of what to expect, I did some research on this Platon guy, nearly skeptical of this mononymous person of certain celebrity.  On my small mobile screen, his photos looked sharp, with his subjects having  the most recognized mugs in the world.

“Ok,” I thought, “I’ll give this guy my attention.”

The next two hours I was on the edge of my seat, being taken, along with the audience, on a universal tour of human emotions.

Image by image, slide by slide, one could hear the resonating gasps and ahhs of the audience as we had huge photographs of both public figures and embattled human beings placed before us on a large projector screen.  Platon let the photograph sink in before recanting the story of each interaction with his subject.  Never before have I seen such powerful images that entirely boils down someone’s persona, and in a sense, animates them.  Along with his amusing, heartfelt, and even unsettling stories about the time he spent shooting these individuals, these photos proved that visual images are more powerful than ever.

 To evoke such reactions is to be a visual image master.

Now master he may be, Platon is also a person of modesty.  While there is no doubt that his portfolio is world renown, Platon focuses more on the content than the communicator.  In the Q&A session following his presentation, the moderator asked him about some of his techniques.  Platon answered, simply, that it is not in the technique or the equipment that he focuses on.  Rather, it is ensuring that he captures the essence of his subject matter and that his photo can communicate effectively the content it holds.

Wow.  Platon got down to the fundamentals with this statement.  He knows that photos are more than images; they are messages.

As the excited chattering lingered on, I felt an odd feeling tinkering on my consciousness:  My experience with the visual storytelling actually increased my ability to understand things that are larger than me.  And as cliché as it is, this proves that a picture is indefinitely worth a thousand words.

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