Portfolio 1: Chaos


In this photograph, the subject of freedom, chaos, and order, and how the three concepts relate to each other is addressed both through the aesthetic qualities of the photograph as well as through the deeper implications presented in the form of flapping pigeons amidst the blurry November sky.

As birds are a global symbol of freedom, this photograph relates to the theory presented by American psychologist Barry Schwartz, who explores the Paradox of Choice and argues that Freedom creates paralysis, not happiness. The stillness of the birds in contrast to the distorted blur of colour surrounding them, which gives the impression of the trees being in rapid motion, is in itself a paradox of reality, as well as an attempt to depict Schwartz’s point of view- as the birds are paralyzed in place for eternity while the choices of destination moves around them in a contorted haze. This idea may also relate to the bigger picture of western consumerism culture, where the abundance of choice leads to a more confined way of life as we tend to go for the same thing over and over again to achieve security.

In a way, the lack of immediate visual appeal in this photograph is also an attempt to explore chaos and freedom. Without the constrictions of Rule of Thirds or The Golden Ratio, the viewer is given the freedom to look in any and all directions and at all the pixels of colour presented in front of him or her, rather than be subtly directed towards the most aesthetically pleasing section of the photograph. However, with this infinite number of choice also comes an explosion of possibilities of where the viewer is supposed to be looking at, which may lead to confusion.

The element of order comes in at this point, where Chaos Theory led to the conclusion that “Order generates chaos, and chaos generates order” (baker,2007). As the ordered pixels of colours generated chaos in the viewers eyes, so did the chaos generate order in turn, as in relation to the second half of this quote, order occurs in the photograph in the form of the emergence of an organised group of birds all flying towards the same destination despite the surrounding chaos and disturbance. The multicolour blur in their environment only works to emphasise their homogeneity in a world of chaotic mess.

This relates to the bigger picture of our society in the way that within the disorder of people in places such as university halls or city streets, chaos generates the order of cliques and social circles that organise the composition of life into a layer of background noise and a layer of focused, organised subject.

After research, I found that my photograph bares resemblance to the work of American documentary Photojournalism photographer Jack Dykinga, especially his collection “New Mexico” where he focuses on the portrayal of bird community and the erratic nature of the native birds in flight, which I found to be relative to the general idea that my photograph attempts to convey.


Baker, P.L. (1993) Chaos, Order, and Sociological Theory. Sociological Inquiry [online]. 63 (2), pp.123-149.


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