Scale can be deceiving in photographs, and sometimes it intended to be that way. A photograph can be both fact and fiction, both a document and a lie. It may contain numerous narratives that spring from our imagination. It can be staged or manipulated in Photoshop, yet still be a document. These days the line between fact and fiction has become blurred.
According to photographer Martin Parr, “Most of the photographs in your paper, unless they are hard news, are lies. Fashion pictures show people looking glamorous. Travel pictures show a place looking at its best, nothing to do with the reality. In the cookery pages, the food always looks amazing, right? Most of the pictures we consume are propaganda.”
My photography has always been rooted in the documentary tradition–I’m not one for manipulation, or post-production. Most everything is achieved by where I stand and when I take the photo–(light is a crucial component as well). But sometimes I aim to take photos that are ambiguous. They look like manipulated photos, yet they are not. Using scale is one way to achieve this sense of ambiguity.
This photo was taken in Peggys Cove, Nova Scotia,–a place that is both beautiful and surreal. The rocks in the frame are actually much smaller than the house, but you may disagree!
Photo tip: Scale provides a frame of reference. A person or object is often put in the frame as a reference point. Try creating tension by including an object of unknown size in the frame.