Jennifer Wannen

Reaching the Story Within

“All That Recedes” 

A year ago I took this photo on the ferry to Martha’s Vineyard, a trip I’d rearranged heaven and earth to make happen. 

When I first reviewed the image, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. There wasn’t anything particularly dramatic or unusual at first glance, but I knew there was a story in it. That’s what I long for the most in my process—to capture a story within the frame. Sometimes a story will be understated. In other pictures, however, I can engage a narrative more overtly. 

For me, the editing process allows other layers of interpretation to come into play beyond the way I originally set up the image. I recall my experience related to a particular scene, and I have the chance to define and recreate the subject in terms of that encounter. Even subtle or basic adjustments can re-envision the image entirely. 

In this photo, I took a more dramatic approach with hue, blur, and burned edging to create the story I wanted to visually suggest in the frame, most predominantly the perspective of a boat’s passenger taking in a withdrawing horizon. This viewpoint contradicts our normal expectation of forward motion. The subject for me wasn’t the water itself but the contemplative relationship of the passenger to the waves that recede behind her. This reference, I intended, would take on a more nuanced experience with the selective focus and dark rose antiquing, reminiscent of old film and evocative of an old memory or dream state. The theme of leave taking and a mood of pensiveness, thus, have the chance to surface within the image’s design, evoking perhaps a subtext I had in mind while editing the image:

“As I stood at the stern’s railing, the water churned behind us, leaving ridge and foam where we’d cut a channel through the ocean’s surface—a path revealed after, rather than ahead, waving me onward in my passion journey.”

All images © 2016-2020 Jennifer Wannen. All rights reserved.

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