What if a photograph was about more than the moment in time it depicts? What if the photographer wasn’t showing you what they saw, but was merely suggesting possibilities for what you could see if only you looked closely enough? That’s what Italian photographer Manuel Cosentino had in mind when he created his series, “Behind a Little House.” The very patient Cosentino spent two years photographing an unremarkable house perched atop a hill—from the same vantage point—in all different kinds of light and weather:
But Cosentino wasn’t content to just photograph and display these. The tiny house means something to him, and the eight photographs he picked to display out of the hundreds—if not thousands—he must have taken were carefully chosen and arranged in such a way as to communicate a bit of the story he sees in the scene.
“Anyone can relate to the little house. I chose it because it reminded me of the little house that I’d draw as a child. It holds a strong symbolic value and speaks the same universal language as the sky.”
This thought process led Cosentino to wonder how other people might relate to the little house; as a result, when the series is shown at a gallery it becomes a participatory experience. The final photograph shows the little house against a completely white sky. As part of the exhibit, an artist’s book—with this final photograph on each page—sits on a table, inviting the viewer to draw whatever she wants as a backdrop, to project her own story onto the house. The book starts off with Cosentino’s own contribution: a simple line drawing of a nuclear power plant looming over the structure. Those simple lines change the whole tone of the image, revealing just how ephemeral the scenes that photographers capture really are.
It’s a thought-provoking experience and experiment, and it also serves as a reminder that those of us behind the lens are doing more than just extracting a still image from the world; we are all to some extent recording ourselves in the scene.
What’s behind your little house?
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