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My photography workshop (Photography for Poets, Painters and Dreamers) began its most recent session with some musings by the teacher regarding the language of describing dreams.  When a person says that she had a dream, most of us assume she’s about to tell us the story of the dream she had while sleeping last night.  However, when we put that sentence in present tense and say “I have a dream”, most people expect it to be followed by a description of a plan or hope that we have for the future.

This led to a discussion about reality.  Yes, we got very philosophical for so early on a Saturday morning. Nighttime dreams usually don’t become true, and therefore aren’t real.  But daydreams could be real.

And then we got into photography.  Do all photos depict reality?  The photo above, for instance, captured two real people walking down the street.  But my photo looks nothing like the way they probably imagined themselves looking.  The instructor likened this picture to an impressionistic painting.  I wasn’t going for that effect, but I’ll be more conscious of being able to give a painterly effect to photos in the future.

So, in our shots for this class session, we used various methods for capturing dreaminess or unreality in photos.

In the following image, I held a mirror partially in front of my lens to put opposite sides of a street next to each other in a very unreal and impossible way.

And my friend took this picture of my eyes reflected in a mirror with the camera pointed at posts supporting a billboard.  It has all the abstractness of a dream.  Or a Picasso.

The greatest thing I’ve learned in this photography class is to constantly question my definition of a good photograph.  It’s liberating to shoot subjects that don’t fall within my prior requirements for what makes a good photo.

Have any of you ever tried capturing these breaks with reality in your photography?  What were your inspirations?  How did your images turn out?  If you haven’t, I encourage you to take a day and practice shooting subjects and styles you wouldn’t normally photograph.  I promise, it will improve your everyday photography too!