Photography – imagery – means many things to many people. Fact is, it is a window not just to the world, places, little details surrounding us; it is ultimately a means for creative expression. Imagery tells stories. Short ones, longer ones, and ones that deeply move on so many levels. We all know the power photos have: They allow us to relive memories, to connect with that particular feeling we had that very moment the photograph was taken. It helps us remember and go through the emotions once more.
But more so, on a creative level, imagery is an art, a language that speaks without words. We all know the saying: “A picture speaks more than a thousand words.” Isn’t that true in so many cases? Not just taking a snapshot for the memory box but actually creating imagery is a process. Today’s technology allows photographers to express the beauty of something photographically captured in so many flavors, which makes it a work of art in itself. Imagery – where reality and abstraction collide. Truly fascinating.
A Seamless Evolution
The editing of film photos began with and in the darkroom in the 1860s. With new technology constantly having been innovated throughout the decades, the art of photography has drastically changed. In my opinion, it is a smooth process, a seamless evolution, this visual art has undergone – and still does.
Images are created to have an impact. It was already in the darkroom that elements such as light and contrast have been strategically used to influence the final results of the imagery. Darkroom manipulation has enhanced the message and / or artistic effect a photo should have.
There are dark shadows on this earth, but its lights are stronger in the contrast – Charles Dickens
Nowadays, with photo editing programs such as Lightroom, Photoshop and many more, the positive manipulation of images is endless. What is your message? How do you want to bring it across? Those digital image programs have opened doors for greater creative expression; they allow one to go beyond the limits of conventional photo editing. Essentially, we have moved past the physical techniques and can conveniently utilize virtual means to create imagery with desired impact.
Breathing Life into Visuals
Creating an image is a lengthy and creative process. Much thought goes into it. From actually planning and executing to eventually editing the shot. It is fascinating how, through the means of compositional elements, contrast, lighting and color, a photograph’s two-dimensionality can be lifted into 3D space.
You don’t take a photograph, you make it – Ansel Adams
Add in certain elements in the front, middle, and back of the image, the illusion of graspable, deeper levels are created. Three-dimensionality breathes life into images. Following the rules of composing and designing a photograph, one comes to realize that it does not matter what genre it would be classified as. Good, compelling imagery in general exudes harmony of the elements mentioned above.
All this comes together as a grand masterpiece in cinematic projects. Cinematography, in my humble opinion, requires the highest of skills. Composing a motion picture that rhythmically and harmoniously combines music, sound design, various dynamic perspectives, energetic and impactful images, as well as fitting, inspirational and educational voice over to show and tell a story is true art and incredibly beautiful.
Window to the World
Usually, the artist behind a certain image had an intention. He wanted to bring a message across, and was playing with a specific idea. No matter the level of abstraction, each of us might develop slightly different emotional responses towards what we’re visually being presented with, sometimes even with various interpretations.
Photography helps people to see – Berenice Abbott
But the fact of the matter is that photos are a window to the world. They allow us an insight into places and destinations we physically cannot visit. They make us wander, they allow us to dream and see what other parts of this planet look like. We experience locations through the window of photography. Furthermore, it grants us various perspectives on something we may have seen before – and now we rethink it.
Photography can let us see the beauty in this world and expand our horizons. We get a peek into aspects of life that may be foreign to us and that, otherwise, we would have maybe never been aware of. Imagery shows and tells at the same time, without words. Uncovering things that would have remained hidden to our eyes, pictures make us see.
Imagery as Silent Language
Images can be the voice of emotions. They speak what we oftentimes cannot find the words for. As a silent language, images are the expression of our unspoken feelings; feelings we are unable to speak out loud. Therefore, images are the visualization of our emotions, the good and the troublesome.
It can be deeply healing to create a picture that we associate with an emotion. We envision what lies deepest within us; imagery has the power to bring that to the surface – for others, but, most importantly, for ourselves.
Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like – David Alan Harvey
Therefore, each of us is the master of our very own life imagery we would create through the visualization of our experiences and connected feelings. And no matter the native language we speak, our thoroughly unique images would be understood by anyone, and our story is told visually, without the literal words.
You look at a photo and instantly, that very second, feel transported back in time. It can evoke the feelings you felt in that particular situation; it might even bring the scents and sounds of that very moment back. This past moment comes alive once more.
Photos are snippets of reality, and we all get nostalgic when coming across a picture that, instantly, triggers something inside of us. We hang on to the moment, the memories that come with it — a beautiful thing.
And so the fascination around photography and imagery creation, for many reasons, remains as the art itself ever evolves.
What do you love most about imagery, about the art of photography?