“Indiana Portrait” by Owen Franssen (Or Get Serious About Having Fun)
Sometimes I think that in order to be a photographer, you need to have a psychology degree. Or perhaps we all need a psychologist. But back to the degree – that part I was honest and serious about (seriously). The thing is that we are really struggling with a difficult medium that seems to be best handled by someone with both left-brained (logic, organization) and right-brained (creative, free-flowing) personalities. It's enough to make us go insane. But inevitably, the left brain likes to take over and control the situation and sometimes it all gets a little too serious. And when we get too serious, so does our photography. So when I happened upon a photo by Owen Franssen titled Indiana Portrait, I had to smile.
I consider macro photography to be among the most serious types of photography. It's the photography of explorers. It is studies of the most minute details and possibly requires the most patience. There is little room for humor. Clearly Owen would disagree. It's not that there's an underlying joke here, and I do feel that this is a serious photo. But the subject matter is pretty awesome. LEGO is possibly one of the most recognizable toys – and it's appreciated by kids of all ages all over the world. There's a reason why the LEGO Star Wars game sold more copies than any of the other Star Wars games: There is a voice deep down inside of all of us that wants us to remember what is was like to be a kid. And when viewing a photo featuring LEGO Indiana instantly reminds us of that.
You'll notice I haven't spoken much about composition at this point. Though for the record, the composition with the off-center placement and the use of dramatic lighting makes for a fantastic photo. In all fairness, Indiana Portrait is not interesting or appealing with such aspects. A concept will fall apart without good composition and lighting. And Owen has done phenomenally well creating a fantastic portrait at a macro scale. Just imagine if this weren't a LEGO character, imagine that it's a corporate Vice President or a front man for a popular band, it would be a powerful and compelling portrait. Except our subject is LEGO Indiana.
The real reason that this photo deserves a spotlight is because Owen has done exactly what we all strive to do: He has made a connection with the viewer. And he did so by choosing a subject that simply strikes a fancy with most of us. Beyond the subject, every other aspect of the photograph is very serious and very precise. It is, in fact, a very serious photograph. But that's the joke, isn't it?
Owen Franssen is an accomplished photographer who has excelled in all types of photography, from portraiture to close-up/macro and landscape photography. You'll want to at least spend some time with Owen’s photostream. But if you really want to be inspired, you'd best view his work and his thought process over at his personal Photography Blog. While you're over there, make sure to check out his Photo365 project which is packed full of inspiring photographs, all presented beautifully.