Photo Notes

May 9, 2009

Speaking About Photography

smart-dodie3One way to understand photography is as a way of communicating. So I could tell you about a spark plug, but if I show you the spark plug you know more. The plug could be from an engine, and then someone who knows cars could tell you the car is running rich. From just a picture of the plug. I could tell you a story with a picture, or I could give you an image that communicates like a poem. We can use photographs to communicate about facts, things actions, ideas and emotions. What a wonderful medium.

Photography is a universal language, although I can’t communicate equally well with everybody. Certainly it is at least very difficult to communicate with the visually impaired. However, since I teach on line, I have had the opportunity to work with students from Finland to Bangladesh. This experience has helped me to believe that almost everyone can read a photograph. I have even had my dog react to photographs; photographs can communicate across species. I can remember seeing a cover of National Geographic that was shot by a Gorilla.

One of the strange things about photography is how much easier it is to read than to write. Most people take pictures. These images are intensely personal, and often only communicate well to the photographer. So a picture from your vacation, or of your child, may be very evocative to you and meaningless to me. These images are really a personal diary, and like a diary, mean little to anyone else. Modern cameras are very good at creating these personal documents.

Photographers will want to do more, to make images that can communicate easily with other persons. We photographers will want to make documents that do more than just document. We will want to create those images that are more than just beautiful; we will want to tell stories, and to make poems. The key for us is to do more than take photographs; we will want to MAKE photographs

1 Comment

  1. […] have discussed the idea that photography is a language in the past, back at the beginning of my blog. I have also written about the difference between […]

    Pingback by Learning Photography? @ Photo Notes — May 11, 2010 @ 12:51 am

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