In the project ‘Illustration’ the inference of the image becomes all important. The symbolism starts to play a large role in the imagery and the sum of its parts tells the story in one image. This helps when dealing with and trying to photograph abstract and intangible ideas. Many companies have this issue when they are trying to describe, visually, something that doesn’t exist or can’t be seen such as insurance. Other instances of this intangibility could include religion. It is very difficult to show an image of whichever god or deity one worships. So the imagery becomes symbolic, a depiction of a metaphysical being.
In this exercise I had to show ‘evidence of action’. This meant thinking of a way to depict a scene where something had happened. Suggestions were showing something that had been broken or emptied, whilst retaining a symbolic meaning.
As mentioned, religion is full of intangibles, so it seemed an obvious route to take. I needed to tell a story with one photograph in this instance.
The image above shows a typical scene outside a mosque. The image suggests the actions of the worshippers before entering the mosque. Shoes and sandals have been emptied of their owners while they go in to pray. Bare feet can be seen returning to their footwear in the background. One can see a wide variety of footwear types ranging from sandals to workman’s boots to businessmen’s shiny shoes. This suggests the religion enveloping the everyman. I have made a black and white image to draw the eye to the stark difference between the dark shoes and shadows and light tiling.
Muslims habitually take their footwear off when entering a mosque. I had always assumed (rightly to some degree) that it was to do with the need for cleanliness before entering the holy space and that it was an absolute religious necessity. However, reading around this a little I find that the Prophet Mohammed would indeed sometimes pray with his shoes on. Providing they were clean then there was not a problem. The Prophet only removed them after being informed he had dirt on them. Nowadays, with mosques having carpets and clean floors, there is a practical as well as a spiritual reason for taking the footwear off. With worshippers constantly coming and going, dirty shoes would make a real mess if they were worn. It’s also possibly indicative of people’s lack of time to check that their shoes are clean and or having time to clean them. Maybe modernity and speed of life is also somewhat responsible for the lack of footwear inside the mosque.
This type of image, one that tells a story within a frame, is the kind that many photojournalists and documentary photographers specialise in.