Photography is employed for a whole host of reasons. It may be simply representational or depictive, as in the case of a fi eld botanist wanting to illustrate and study the detail of a new species of orchid. An extreme example is a passport photograph, where even a smile is not permitted. A Form of Expression At the other extreme it may be used simply as a form of expression, with the photographer giving the process over to the right side of his/her brain. Here the photographs may not even be shared with others, with the process of producing the image being a form of “expressive therapy” for the individual.
For most of us, however, we enjoy our photography as something that is a little more than representational. It is not only a way of conveying something about the subject matter, but also about ourselves to other people. The “ego” is perhaps calling out to be noticed as much through our photography as through our other pursuits in life. As David Ward, one of Britain’s best-known landscape photographers, said, “Ultimately, isn’t it better to be noticed for the way we see than for what we see?” As we shall see, an important fi rst step in taking control of our picture making is this acknowledgment that most of us are taking a photograph partly for ourselves, but also to impact or infl uence others.
Through our photographs we aim to say something about the subject. Often, but certainly not always, it is an attempt to express and capture the beauty of a scene or subject, or to convey our emotional reaction to an aspect of our surroundings. If we simply “point and shoot” with our cameras, the problem is that we are asking the camera to do the impossible—to convey the thought, refl ection, or vision that made us lift the camera in the fi rst place. Composition enables us to better express this with clarity.
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