“I have no idea what the real story was in this photo, and every viewer will bring their own interpretation”

Art of Seeing by Benedict Brain
Convention suggests that there should be space for the subject to look ‘into’, but positioning the frame so the man is looking out of it adds to the sense of mystery. Fujifilm X100V with Fujifilm 23mm f/2 lens. 1/250 sec at f/5.6, ISO 160 (Image credit: Benedict Brain)
About Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain with camera

(Image credit: Marcus Hawkins)

Benedict Brain is a UK-based photographer, journalist and artist. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel. He is also a past editor of Digital Camera Magazine, and the author of You Will be Able to Take Great Photos by The End of This Book.

Equipment isn’t something I bang on about a great deal in this column, although there have been times when I feel it’s important to acknowledge the role of kit in the creative process. 

I acquired a Fujifilm X100V, as a replacement for my beloved X100F. Annoyingly, I fell in the sea and – aside from really hurting my knees – the X100F was trashed beyond repair. Thankfully, my insurance came up trumps, and the replacement (and upgrade) was pain-free. 

I’ve tended to use the Fujifilm X100F, and now the X100V, as a ‘carry around’ for trips when I’m not specifically on a photography ‘mission’, but want something more sophisticated than a smartphone. Its fixed 23mm lens (35mm equivalent) suits my way of seeing the world, while its smallness makes me feel photographically inconspicuous. It’s easy to see why so many street photographers are drawn to it.

When I’m in the landscape, I feel my photographic behavior is more aligned with that of a documentary or street photographer than that of a landscape photographer, especially when I’m using my little Fujifilm. Humanity’s relationship with nature and the environment is something that fascinates me photographically, and this image speaks to that sense of curiosity. It was taken at the Valley of Rocks on the North Devon coast.

While there were plenty of classic views to capture, this quiet shot of a man and his two dogs intrigues me. There’s a sense of mystery, and an implied narrative. I have no idea what the real story was and every viewer will bring their own interpretation, but I like the tragic tension the image suggests, with the dog and the man looking in opposite directions. There’s even a tension in the overall composition, with the sea only just visible on the right.  

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Benedict Brain

Benedict Brain is a UK based photographer, journalist and artist. He graduated with a degree in photography from the Derby School of Art in 1991 (now University of Derby), where he was tutored and inspired by photographers John Blakemore and Olivier Richon, amongst others. He is an Associate of the Royal Photographic Society and also sits on the society’s Distinctions Advisory Panel.

Until July 2018 Benedict was editor of Britain’s best-selling consumer photography magazine, Digital Camera Magazine. As a journalist he met and interviewed some of the world’s greatest photographers and produced articles on a wide range of photography related topics, presented technique videos, wrote in-depth features, curated and edited best-in-class content for a range of titles including; Amateur Photographer, PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Professional Photography and Practical Photoshop. He currently writes a regular column, The Art of Seeing, for Digital Camera magazine.