I found an article this past week about Canadian photographer Paul Zizka and his recent experiments with night-time self-portraits. Only these aren’t the normal type of hold-your-Iphone-up-to-a-mirror-make-a-duck-face-and-peace-sign self portraits that plague the internet today and make us all wonder whose brilliant idea it was to equip telephones with camera and internet capabilities. No, the images Paul Zizka has captured are a million times better. They are, in fact, everything a selfie should be:
Because instead of attempting to magnify and individual, Zizka’s photographs contextualize one and place the image of the photographer in relation to the world around him. They fly in the face of humanistic perceptions of the world and instead present mankind as small, feeble and yet, somehow, still beautiful in light of the majesty surrounding him.
Beyond the remarkable ability of a Mr. Zizka in capturing these images I can’t help but note the intentionality with which he placed himself in the photos; an intentionality that points to the object of the photos being the majesty of nature rather than humankind.
See, there exists within photography what is known as “the rule of thirds”. When a photographer frames the object he’s attempting to capture, he wants to take the picture so the human eye is drawn to a certain part of the photo. Whether we realize it or not, we are not naturally prone to look instantly to the middle of the photograph, rather our eyes are instinctively trained to look to the outer corners. Thus in the following image the photographer was attempting to capture a seagull for viewers. Rather than place the seagull in the dead center of the photo (which would actually look awkward to a viewer) he placed it in an outer third.
Thus the viewer’s eyes are naturally drawn to the bird, the object of the photograph. For the most part, Zizka’s photographs leave the human image out of the thirds, the areas of the photo usually reserved and intended for the human eye to focus on. Instead these spaces are occupied by natural scenes, with the human in the dead center, an awkward position for the subject of the photograph to be placed.
It’s entirely possible I’m reading wayyy to much into this. I usually do. But maybe I’m not and maybe this is a subtle but deliberate manner in which Zizka went about elevating nature above himself and allowing the viewer to instantly witness the perspective he was attempting to capture. Either way, I’m fascinated with Zizka’s work and admirable of his humility and intentionality. His photos are inspiring to me and a reminder of my place in the cosmos, a little role in something big.
Don’t take my word for it though. Make sure you check out the full article, including several more awe-inspiring photos here.