The flower & the boy: A question about aesthetic

by DRM


I can’t see whatever you see here. I’m mesmerized by the cast of the eye, the angle of the nose, the gentle cherry lips. My heart swells when I stare at the photo and try to decipher its aesthetic.

Strange, isn’t it?

See, I know there’s something pleasing about the photo. That’s why I’m sharing it. I’m not a photographer, but I like the shorthand that snapshots provide to the world I experience.

(A restaurant we like to go to has photos taken by Alan Ginsburg all around the walls. They are black and white. Ginsburg wrote descriptions on the margin in tight black script. The collection is compelling as art, the photographs themselves sometimes pedestrian.)

But I can’t tell what it might be.

Does my overwhelming love for the boy come across in the image, even though he is in the background, diminished by the vividness of the flower? Or does the photo engage because of fundamentals of composition?

This confusion is why honesty is so important in art and creativity.

Are you being honest with yourself about what you are doing and why? It is easy to convince yourself that you are being honest, when you are really being lazy, or falling back on some creative parlor trick.

For instance, I don’t know whether the photo is any good, as a photo. I do know that I love looking at it. And I know that some number of readers will see the young boy and feel sentimental longing. The halo of that sentiment will extend to the aesthetic judgment of the photo. A human connection will be made.