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  • Writer's pictureRichard Wood


BREAKING THE “RULES” AS AN ARTIST....: in the name of storytelling.

I wanted to share this image with you. ‘The Man in the Golden Helmet’ by our friend Rembrandt.

Why am I sharing this image with you?

I want to discuss breaking the “rules” of craft.

When we look at this image, one might say that the helmet is far too bright and highlighted whilst the face is left under-exposed. In photography especially, this may be at first sight regarded as an oversight in craft. However ponder a little longer, one might say this is a lot more clever than this and that the pull from the ‘conventional’ rules is deliberate in turn to tell a very clever story.

Now this image hangs in my home, and also did in my parents as a child so it could be said I’ve had time to ponder. But none the less, this is how I see the image.

Here Rembrandt has presented us with a soldier standing in darkness. Many say he may be looking down at his dead men. Or is it that he’s contemplating the atrocities he’s experienced in war? Or maybe his glum face just suggests he hates his job! Either way, the darkness presented in his face (underexposed) not only describes his feeling but possibly also shows the human lack of importance of ‘the individual’ when it comes to ruling and war.

Meanwhile our attention is spectacularly drawn to the golden decorated helmet worn by this soldier. The darkness of humanity is over ruled by the materialistic illumination and adornment of his helmet, signifying possibly the self importance of country/state and the glorification of what is really underneath... a very glum and upsetting situation which is war and a darkness over humanity.

Our eyes are immediately pulled to the bright helmet where lies a suggestion of beauty, royalty and a ‘majestic uniform’. Our eyes then move down through the mans face which suggests something quite different hidden in the darkness. We are left wondering and wanting to know more. But do we really want to know and see?

This…. is master story telling. Well the way I see and interpret it.

Yes you can go against and break conventional basic “rules”. But what is your reason for doing so?

Happy story telling everybody!

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