The difference between a good photo and a great photo is often subtle little details. You often hear about a point of diminishing returns, or the point at which your effort and time outweighs the potential outcome benefit. A artist never stops at that point. And so the tiny details get taken care of. Subconsciously, we all notice…we just don’t know why. Regardless, the artists work beyond the point of diminishing returns is not lost on the viewer. My point is that the details really do matter. So this week, I would like to feature a photo by Carlo Cafferini: The Deafening Sound of Silence.
I literally happened upon Carlo’s photograph because he posted it in the Urban Exploration Community on Google+. I don’t know Carlo, I wasn’t following his work specifically. But The Deafening Sound of Silence was a photo that just caught my eye. At the time, I wasn’t exactly sure why. As it happens sometimes, the reason revealed itself over time. This is when you know the photographer spent time on tiny details. Yes, we are looking at ruins and abandonment. There’s dust on the floors with scratches, cracks and dirt all over the place. By anyone’s assessment, it’s probably the last place you’d find the precision of a photographer like Carlo. The framing is perfect, the perspective perfect, light perfect…I bet he even tweaked the position of each door before snapping the shutter. After reviewing more of his work, I’m pretty confident about that last point.
The detail that makes the photograph is the repetition, or more specifically pattern, one of the great building blocks. The pattern is in delicate balance here: They key is the positioning of the doors. If one is a bit more closed or a bit more open, the pattern falls apart. The light doesn’t fall where it should, the lines fall out of parallel and the composition as a whole falls apart. You can even trace the lines leading to the vanishing points. The most obvious is the line created by the light cast through the windows. There’s one line across the top corners of the doors, even including the one opening the other direction in the back. There’s even one through the doorknobs. Even in the ruins, little details matter.
Carlo Cafferini strikes me as the type of photographer who will accept nothing less than perfection in his own work. I dare say – and I mean this as a compliment – the man wouldn’t do well as a photojournalist. There an ethos in photojournalism that prevents photographers from modifying the image – no post-processing to clone out blemishes, no editing of the scene before the shutter. No, Carlo is a tweaker, setting up with a tripod featuring lots of knobs and adjusting the scene both before and after the shutter. His portfolio contains a great number of photos that stand as a testament to his time and effort. Each and every photo is compositionally perfect. But each has those little details that make them stand out, even if you don’t know. You can view more of Carlo’s work on 1x.com or on 500px. You can also follow him at Google+.