Two of the most commonly repeated but never-really-hit-home terms used throughout my university years. So simple and (I know) so obvious but only really made sense for me in the last year and a half.
The point is, it isn’t about weather you are laying on your belly and craning your neck up to look at the sky. Or if you realise rolling over will make it easier by laying on your back. Or perhaps you then decide to get closer to the clouds and you pay to go up to the top of the Empire State Building and find you actually enjoy looking down at New York. But none of that offers you a different perspective or alter your point of view really.
I worked on a project for almost an entire year. (smashing out these briefs is daunting) But finally, within that year, the defining moment for my projects’ success was the day I realised my point of view was all over the place. Creating a series of black and white portraits, I wanted to raise questions of race and equality and I tackled long and hard with the work until I realised the importance of meeting my sitters at eye level. Okay, this seems more of a technical point – and it was. I literally lowered and levelled the field camera until we could comfortably meet each other’s gaze. But the point lays in realising I couldn’t either look down on them nor put them on a pedestal. We are equal and therefore we must meet each other’s gaze equally. But to realise this simple point, it took reading essays, watching films, and looking at our shared culture on a multitude of different platforms. But most importantly it took real conversations and the building of real relationships with real people.
Altering your point of view and seeing something from a different perspective requires both education and a deeper understanding in a personal sense of whatever the topic might be. You can gain a different perspective of New York by picking up a book and saving yourself the thirty dollars to get to the top of the Empire State building. Or even better, stay at the bottom and enjoy some people watching and engage the long standing doorman in some chitchat. I can bet you your thirty dollars he spills some beans and you get a glimpse of the city from his point of view.
So, just like John Webster said, to change lives, to do some good in this big bad world of ours, and ultimately to sell, we creatives must remember who we are talking to. We don’t create Ad’s to impress all of our fellow creatives out there. We are talking to everyone else, your granny and her pals down at bridge club. I believe gaining a different perspective involves more than just looking. Sometimes we’ll have to try stepping into the shoes of others to experience their point of view and actually change our own perspective for once.