Just a Little Mystery

Mysterious figure standing at a gate in Guilin, China. Nighttime image with colored lights.

There’s something about a little mystery in photography that appeals to me. I admit it, I love a good whodunnit. I love images that make you ask more questions than they answer. Images that make you think, make you wonder, make you lost…there’s just something so appealing about them to me. I love the idea that you can get lost in an image, that it takes you away, to that faraway place, to a place from which you almost don’t want to return.

OK, yes, I admit, there’s also something fabulous about the right in your face style of photography too. Photography is a lot about realism, I get that. I totally get that. We’re “real” kind of people in a “real” kind of world. And, yes, magical sunsets or lights or sweeping landscapes that you can almost reach out and touch do seem kind of fabulous too, don’t they? Heck, I’ve been there, I’ve seen that, I know the drill. I want some of that as well, but there’s just something about a little mystery. I just love it when a little something-something is left off the table. When not everything is spelled out so clearly in black and white. When the photographer makes you think. You like to think, don’t you? Heck, I think everybody likes to think. We’re thinking beasts as a lot, I swear we really are.

I think sometimes we get lost in mysterious images because they draw us in. It’s not so black and white, it’s not so in your face. Instead, it quietly pulls you in, like it ropes you, draws you into its world for a spell. There’s just something about that whole idea that I really like. It’s captivating.

It’s hard to make mysterious images. Often, they don’t jump out at us. We have to work at them, sometimes a lot, but I think they are worth it. They are so worth it in the end. There’s just something I love about a little mystery, a little question mark, a little bit left off the table for you to figure out all by your lonesome. That little nudge that makes you think, makes you scratch your head, makes you wonder in amazement. A nagging question, perhaps, or maybe a mysterious figure that you just can’t place. Sure, it might make the hair on the back of your neck stand up a little bit but, hey, that’s an emotion too, isn’t it? Let’s face it, well all like emotion as photographers, don’t we? Even if they boil down to *that* kind of an emotion, it’s still better than not feeling anything at all, right?

Yes, there’s something about a little mystery in life that I really like. I chose this image tonight deliberately, since it’s a bit of a mystery and I was going over some of my work from China. I thought it fit nicely and still can’t quite remember what I did to make it happen. Yes, I guess it’s that kind of image but, like, that’s OK. I like a little mystery, even if I’m the one who can’t remember it all. It’s all well and good.

This is me, standing by some ancient forgotten gate in China somewhere. Lost. Just how I like it. And now, I guess, I hope you like it too. 

Until next time…

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