© Copyright 2017 Natasha Daley, Ryerson University
When a viewer observes this picture of a young couple they may automatically feel a sense of happiness for them, even borderline excitement. With gleaming eyes focussed at the camera, her arm tightly wrapped around him, and their heads touching gives the viewer an image of something perfectly held together. You admire the closeness that is displayed in front of you, almost to the point of feeling close to them yourself. From this one single frame captured, you have a presumption that they are a couple from the way that they’re posed; however, the reality of the situation could make them siblings, friends or even strangers. Most view the picture and create their own connection our two models out of their own self finding and satisfaction of the relationship conjured in their mind.
Looking at these two people, we associate them with being a couple through the process of elimination and deduction. Throughout the years we have come to be fed a particular image of what the traditional couple should look like through societal influence and classical imagery.
Usually heterosexual with bright smiles and holding each other tight indicates to us that they must be more than friends to embody this “love” that we understand from the picture, but cannot explain why.
The answer is within ourselves and our need to view a picture of a happy couple as just that, but we should look past our desire of wanting a perfect bond between two people to feel content with our vision of perfection. We should look at the whole picture as a single frame and view it as one still connected to a whole story with several layers. While looking at the image, we should acknowledge the components of a relationship that are not visible in what we see.
You look at the two of them in the picture. From a first person perspective looking into a still image, you imagine yourself understanding their happiness from the smiles that they flash to the camera. Naturally, we want to associate a smile with happiness and connecting to her happiness as a whole in the relationship. In reality, we have to look away from the emotion that is shown in front of us to get an understanding of what a couple embodies individually. We should take the time to acknowledge that she might not be truly happy as we might assume from looking at the picture from a first person perspective.
The background in this picture is blurred out to make sure that viewers are only focused on the couple, so that their emotions and body language can be interpreted. We’re forced to look at them, but in a way that goes beyond. From their body language, you can tell that they are comfortable with each other enough for her to have her arm around him. We can describe it as either love or friendliness or holding onto something that is no longer there.
To look at a picture of a couple like this without developing an understanding of emotion or body language leaves it 2D. Looking at it with the curiosity of wanting to know why they are so happy or if they are truly happy will give you a more dimensional outlook on how you perceive a picture of a couple. A smile by itself can tell more if you have the curiosity to dwell on what that smile holds.
Elkins, James. How to Use Your Eyes. Routledge, 2000.