Do Images Move You Too Much?

When you look at this picture, what do you see?

Depending on your perception, your mood, your frame of mind and a thousand other factors, you might see a duck or a rabbit. It’s all up to you and how you perceive the world.

Art is like that.

Writing is extremely subjective, and what might seem like creative apocalypse to me could be absolute trash to someone else. Faced with anything that evokes emotion, compels feelings or that represents something deep inside us, we each make personal decisions.

Photography is like that, too. Professional photographers and people steeped in the hobby of capturing emotion on film work many hours and take many shots with all sorts of variables to grab the very concept they want in one photo.

But people have lived through events that shape what they see. The writer or the photographer puts everything into capturing his or her version of perfect, and someone else captures a completely different mental image.

Maybe we’re all working towards perfection for nothing, hm?

I digress. The point is that I could write the words “warm and inviting,” and it will take on many different meanings for a wide range of readers.

Warm and inviting could be a fire crackling in a fireplace. It could be a small, cozy chair with a blanket and a book nearby.

It could bring on a flash of Aunt Jesse, whose smile makes you feel perfectly great inside. She always welcomes you in and feeds you cookies, too.

Or maybe warm and inviting is a bed in a room. A bed for two, perhaps. Maybe it’s the warm and inviting look that beautiful stranger gave you as you passed by. It could be the embrace you share.

Warm and inviting could represent colors. Reds, oranges… the color of sunsets, perhaps.

What you perceive from these words, what emotions you feel or what mental image comes to mind, has everything to do with your history, experiences, upbringing, views, values and so much more.

It has nothing to do with the creator’s intentions.

Every now and then, Harry and I feature photography that we feel evokes a strong emotion. We select images that we feel stir the senses. We want to make an impact in a thoughtful way using strong photography. What’s wrong with that?

It’s a little bit silly, really, because none of the pictures involve gratuitous sex or violence. One of us finds a portrait of a fully clothed woman that perfectly captures the concept of the related post – and then we have to ask, “Is this too much?” We find a photo of two people in love, and we have to wonder if the image is too sensitive – but what’s wrong with love?

A photo of a beautiful woman or a handsome man becomes something controversial and distasteful – the human body is a shameful thing. Or is it? I don’t think so. Do you?

Being who we are, we have open, tolerant minds and we accept many things that many other people don’t. Harry and I both accept religious preference, racial diversity, gender equality, homosexuality, lifestyle choices, nudity…

We pride ourselves on understanding that the world is a melting pot of acceptability and that no one’s opinion is the only opinion we should all have. We don’t shove our views down anyone’s throat or tell others that what we believe is what they should believe like so many people seem to do, either.

Some images we feature result in criticism. We’re told we post photos that demonstrate we encourage violence against women, gender domination and gratuitous sex.

Well, we don’t see that.

We don’t select any photo that we feel degrades people – male or female – in any way. We have open minds and understand that life is not always rosy and pure, so perhaps our perception of what is acceptable is not another person’s perception.

Some people are very quick to judge our character based on the images we select and post as well. The photo of a wide-eyed woman with a hand over her mouth found us sporting labels of women haters.

And yet, the woman’s eyes hold no fear. They are simply wide. Her facial expression is completely flat. The man’s hand exerts no pressure – it is completely gentle. He wears a wedding ring.

The photo could represent many stories – is he silencing her because their lives are in danger? Is it an intimate moment between partners in life? Some people saw domination. Others saw an opportunity to fight back.

What you see depends on who you are. And what you see is no reflection on who you are.

For each critical comment or email we receive, we receive ten more saluting us for our choice of evocative images that make people think or that touch them in some way. We’re commended for our confidence levels to display images considered slightly racy and at the same time very tasteful.

Certainly, some images may make some people uncomfortable, yes. Perhaps instead of criticizing our selection or judging us for our choices, the people who feel uncomfortable with the photos they view should ask themselves why they feel that way.

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.