Photography, when taken as a form of art, derives its strength from the fact that a photo might evoke something unique in us. We have been well trained to respond to the photographic language used in the media - regardless of whether we actually feel what we say we feel, but when we deal with photography taken as an art form, we have more freedom. We feel more comfortable to see what it does to us, we feel more comfortable to let it get closer to us.
“Leshka” by Andrew Miksys is one of those photos that triggered something in me - quite unlike many other photographs that I like, even from my favourite photographs. I like photos for all kinds of reasons, and to explain why I like “Leshka” is quite different from explaining why I like, for example, Alec Soth’s photo of Johnny Cah’s boyhood home. The main difference is that I don’t really know all the different elements that come together in me when looking at “Leshka”. Or maybe some of them I don’t even want to become too aware of.
I personally find this aspect of photography quite important. I’m usually uncomfortable with people telling me why I have to like some photo; and when people ask me what it is that I like about a photo and someone then tells me he or she still doesn’t like it I find that perfectly acceptable. This sometimes leads to a lot of confusion, because some people assume that if I like a photo and they don’t, then there must be something wrong. But there isn’t. Photography speaks to us in certain ways, and while some photos work a certain magic for us, others don’t. It’s a matter of personal taste. And taste is more than just a simple set of preferences. Taste also involved past experiences and personality, things that we don’t necessarily share with each other.
“Leshka” is standing in the snow, outside of what might be his house, and he is not looking at the camera. The way the photo is composed makes it seem like it consists of two pieces, namely Leshka and his house on the right, and on the left, there’s the village, the world. There seems to be some separation between the two (mirrored in Leshka’s avoidance of the camera lens). Or maybe that’s just what I see in it. There’s solitude, and a certain amount of sadness. Poor (?) Leshka, left (?) out in the cold. And maybe again, someone else might not see this in this photo. Leshka might not have been left out, he might have decided to be out there on his own (but if you now say the photographer made him do it, I haven’t succeeded in trying to explain what I see in it). So there’s an ambiguity, which makes things even more interesting.
Ultimately, we have to confess we don’t really know what’s going on (and if we’re honest we don’t want to know, because in art not knowing can be richer than knowing). All we know is that Leshka is standing out in the snow, and all the rest is what we add to that.
What a great photo!