With those definitions in mind, I selected images of ballet dancers in rehearsal. I thought that these images embody the idea of "Études" and "Tableau". Dancers practice over and over and over so their performances can flawlessly tell wonderful stories that delight us all. Each image consists of two layers of composition. One layer is the photographic image itself. The other is the lettering composition, which should be artistic on its own, integrate well with the underlying photograph and enhance it.
I have been on a journey to find a way to incorporate calligraphy, my newfound passion, with my photography. It has been a struggle. It is a skill that has to be acquired through a lot of practice and it takes time. I am still very far from reaching the final destination.
In the meantime, I have been incorporating typography rather than calligraphy to my images. I learned that there is a difference between the two. Calligraphy is the art of writing letters usually with a pen or brush. Typography, on the other hand, is the use of pre-fabricated letters like fonts in a computer. This article explains it a lot better.
How do the images come about?
I start by selecting images that stand out on their own, have a painterly look, tells a story and make a good "tableau". I use long exposure to blur movement and I frame the scene to capture just a hint of movement. Some images are rather expressive even when the subjects are not fully recognizable. Sometimes, just their silhouette is enough to tell the story. Then, I like to add an insinuation of the photographer and make those images more personal and unique. That's when "lettering" comes in and the fun begins.
I don't have a pre-visualized image in my mind. I might have a vague idea of what I want to accomplish but for the most part, I let inspiration guide me. Most of the time, the final image ends up being completely different anyway. It might take hours, days or weeks. When I reach a dead end, I delete everything and start it all over again from scratch. I work with text that is related to ballet and dancing in general. I also like to use quotes from great composers and painters, in particular, French painter Edgar Degas, who dedicated most of his career painting dancers and dance-related scenes. I apply a variety of styles that I have developed over the years and there is a point when the image just comes alive. It is an "awe" moment and it is so rewarding.
The journey is on and it has been exciting and definitely not free of conflicting thoughts. I would like to end this post with some questions that kind of bother me and for which I don't have an answer. At what point the image stops being a photograph and becomes digital art? How do I reach a balance? Does it matter if I don't?