Last month, my family and I were wandering through Petts Wood Forest. There were hundreds and hundreds of trees constantly clustered around us, but only one that stood out to me: a tree in the middle of the path, with a hole through the centre of its trunk. I could see its insides dappled with sunlight, and my brother’s brown eye peering through against the green foliage. Instantly, I yelled ‘Hold still!’, whipped out my phone and snapped a shot.  

At school, we had been assigned a homework task of taking eight shots with the theme of interiors – until the hole in the tree, I had been stuck on seven. When I first heard the word ‘interiors’ as our theme, my mind instantly flashed to domestic images, like bedrooms or shops, which is why I wanted to do the exact opposite. I wanted an image that would stand out, or that you wouldn’t at first associate with ‘interiors’, hence I chose an image of nature.  

My aims while taking this image were: 

  • To choose an appropriate perspective (straight-on, from above, from the side etc.), 
  • To have a clear focal point, 
  • To take a clear photo, 
  • To adhere to the theme. 

I chose a straight-on perspective for the photo because it made the hole in the tree look the biggest, making my brother’s eye very visible and creating a clear focal point.  

At first, I was uncertain whether I should keep my brother’s eye in the photo or not; on one hand, it covered up some of the green leaves which might have provided more variety to the mostly grey colour palette, but on the other hand, the eye created an interesting illusion of almost a broken fourth wall and intensified the focal point. I took a few shots with and without the eye and eventually went with the first photo I took – with the eye. I decided that it suited the photo well and added a sense of mystery to the image. In addition, I liked how the smoothness of my brother’s skin contrasted with the lumpy and gnarled texture of the tree. However, I ensured that there was still some green peeking from behind my brother’s head, to widen the colour scheme of the image.  

Although the focal point of the image is my brother’s eye, I chose to have this part of the photo blurred and the jagged cracks of the exterior tree trunk in focus. One reason for this was that I was wary that I might have to create a line drawing of this image for a later homework, and recreating the detailed, lumpy texture of the tree would be difficult if it were unclear in the reference photo. Another reason was that the cracks of the tree created shadows which formed interesting shapes and silhouettes, as well as provided more contrast for the image. The lumps on the tree subtly pointed towards the centre of the image and were more concentrated nearer to the hole in the tree, further reinforcing the focal point.  

Moreover, the eye being out of focus also adds to the sense of mystery within the image and makes it more intriguing to look at. 

To adhere to the theme of ‘interiors’, I kept the inside of the tree in focus and took the image from a close-up perspective, so the hole would be large enough to be visible without taking too much space away from the outside of tree. 

Overall, I like this image; I think I did a good job making it appealing to look at, while leaving a lot of its meaning up to interpretation. For example, the photo could represent the human impact on nature, or the constant feeling of being watched, or hiding your identity – or maybe it’s just a hole in a tree.