What does looking at a photograph evoke in you? Do the sentiments it produces merely exist in a superficial manner in terms of creating a physical attraction or does it fabricate a more deeper analysis in your mind? Whether an analysis is subjective of objective (as much as it can be) I always try to query myself when looking at a photograph, not to give it more meaning but to take the themes that I identify and expand them in a literal sense. A photograph may always receive an allegorical meaning.
To analyse a photograph in an allegorical matter means to interpret the subjects that stand in the foreground and form direct connections to their characteristics.
Pathetic fallacy juxtaposes the emotional state of a character to the weather. The archetypical example would be a fierce storm mirroring the enraged mood of someone. The symbolism of snow plays an important role here, because it doesn’t only act as a masking device but it also creates a contrast between the untouched or unknown and the potential success or outlook, which is symbolised by the ladder. Through this, the image receives two major characteristics.
Firstly, as the snow encompasses everything, it sets the mood that whatever has been in motion has now come to a stop. There is no more movement, no more chaos. Where there are no footsteps, no one has tread before. The car is covered vastly, and clearly hasn’t been moved. Mobility is constrained. The scene portrays peace, silence and calmness.
Secondly, the ladder is large enough to reach the roof, even overcome it. At its summit there is an outlook and it’s the brightest point. Yet this is where the connection between the two symbolisms clash. In order to reach the ladder, one must walk through the snow and through this act, the calmness, serenity and peacefulness of the untouched snow would be severely impaired. This theme is then supported throughout this photograph and that raises the important question: must we destroy calmness to reach our goals? Arguably we must always overcome something to make it to the summit.
The goal, which is the summit, or even the enlightenment, does not stand unique. The alliteration of cables portrays there must not only be one street lamp that shines light and symbolises a specific achievement. There is not only one path one can take.
Concluding this, we can merely assume a photograph is beautiful for its characteristics, but it gains an amplified meaning when these characteristics are broken down. This careful analysis does not only add to the symbolism but it also highlights objects, the ladder is a foil to the snow. The extent of the analysis then depends on the wilfulness of the viewer, since we must ask ourselves: do we need to give art meaning or does art stand freely without our interpretation?