Is it okay to confuse the viewer of a photograph by abstraction of form?
Or more simply said: Does a photograph need to reveal exactly what the subject matter is?
Both of the images below are difficult for an observer to interpret. Very few people can fathom what the central object is in either image. When people visit my home and look at a framed print of the image at left their initial thoughts are that it is simply a drawing. Although I like the image at left, I find it quite subjective or abstract – the meaning is lost since the viewer cannot completely understand the image – they cannot comprehend the isolated subject matter. This can be resolved to some extent by having a title below the print that exposes the subject matter, and then allows the observer to gain a level of enlightenment about the beauty and composition of the scene. I wanted the viewer to realise that the shape and form of the central object were in fact reflected lake reeds creating a beautiful symmetry. In the image at right I included the peninsula when I took the photograph, this provides context giving the viewer (some viewers anyway!) the necessary clue to establish what the object is in the foreground.
When all said and done, I actually like both images a lot, but for different reasons: In the image at left I like the isolation of the symmetrical reeds from the surrounding scene – it gives them a stark and angular presentation, highlighting their natural symmetry, whereas the image at right gives a scene showing a cold and foggy morning the reeds provide a strong foreground element against a backdrop of dark trees enveloped in mist. Comment below, which image do you prefer?