Photographing the Unseen – a thought inspired by a quotation.

I came across a thought-provoking quotation in the current copy of B+W Photography (Schneideman 2017, 48)

A pattern is a visible manifestation of an invisible force.

The context is a wide-ranging article about patterns in general. Toward the end of the article Scheideman introduces the concept of pattern as a rule-set, ‘… an unseen hand that controls events.‘ From context, he could also mean an unseen hand that organises events.

I am put in mind of the mathematic concept of fractals, in which complex shapes and patterns can be generated by the application of very simple rules. The same sort of thing can be seen in nature, from the shapes of clouds, the patterns of waves and ripples, or the complex shape of a fern frond.

Schneideman’s ‘invisible force‘ could be the ‘unseen‘ that I have to photograph. It would be interesting to photograph patterns in nature and relate them to the underlying force or rule. A few questions: How obvious should the ‘unseen’ element be? Should I produce a whole set of manifestations of the same rule? How do I make this more than just a set of close-ups of a fern frond?

The concept has definitely ‘clicked’. All I have to do now is work out how to achieve it.


Schneideman, A. (2017). Thinking Photography. Black + White Photography, (202), pp.46-48.


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