Review - Ken Scott "All in the Mind – The Psychology of Photography", 17 Aug 2020

A review by Jane Tearle - Ken Scott, "All in the Mind – The Psychology of Photography", 17 August 2020
This was the final meeting of our extended 2019-20 season, and we were treated to a fully immersive talk by Ken Scott. With a background in psychology and as a professional photographer, Ken took us on a journey through our own photographic experience. What is it we actually see when we take a photograph … or maybe don’t see?

The first half of the evening took us on a pathway through the basics of ‘photopsychology’, where everything we do starts in our mind. Our photo is a representation of what we see but before that a range of our own filters, knowledge and experience will have influenced the image achieved. This is our interpretation, it may not be some else’s.

Ken, with examples of his own work at each stage, took us through a series of sub titles that effect our photographs. Experience being the main one, the emotional impact of 'being there' makes an image meaningful to us. We remember it and make the associations we felt then, happiness, sadness, freedom and so on. When we see others in a setting we can identify with them, empathise maybe or even fantasise to make sense of the picture. When we take a picture we need to be present in the moment, turn off filters and judgements and come to the photo naturally, to make it authentic and ‘unique to me’. He mentioned a quote by photographer Aaron Siskind of whom he is an admirer …

“Look at the world and see what we have learned to believe is there. We have been conditioned to expect….But as photographers we must learn to relax our beliefs”

Following this, Ken suggested ways in which this would relate to our photographic compositions and how we see them. The contrast or lack of it; he gave the example of a very misty set of trees and explained his style of photography was to make a picture of what he actually saw with very little outside influence! Go take pictures purely of contrast is his suggestion! Lines were explained; vertical engender thoughts of strength and power, a pylon; oblique lines usually indicate movement, a curved road through the landscape; and he was not in favour of the habit of straightening converging verticals!

The second half gave us the chance to see how we respond to images with all the background influences which we had not really thought about prior to the first half, beginning with a picture where all the participants had their faces covered with their hands so no expressions to see. This related to our ‘COVID here and now’ with folk wearing masks when out and about. What will our pictures show in the future? Facial expressions are what people are all about as Ken then demonstrated with a range of his images including his family! But the actual interpretation is in the eye of the beholder, which will relate back to our own experiences.

Ken’s other face is one of mindfulness. Of being a in a ‘mindful state’ is what he tries to achieve as he takes his images. What was it that caught my attention? and why? then trying to achieve the best meaningful photograph he can with very little processing.

From this evening’s thought provoking and exceptionally well constructed presentation we will all have something to think about as we go out and about with our cameras. A different approach maybe for many, but definitely useful for me as a walker with a camera!

Thank you Ken for an inspirational evening. You have got us thinking about our ‘photopsychology’ for sure!

~ Jane Tearle

Go to https://touchingthelight.co.uk/ for more information on Ken’s work