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What is Photography

Photography takes an instant out of time,
altering life by holding it still
— Dorothea Lange

Drawing with Light

The word "photograph" literally translated from its Greek origins means "drawing with light". Nothing is so essential to photography as Light, without which it simply won't exist. The fascination of catching the Light and giving it a material Form remains actual since 19th century pioneers until contemporary artist.

Photography is a Visual Language

And like with any language we have to learn it to use it properly.
Imagine how kids start learning an alphabet, then to use words, then combine those into sentences. Spell and write, again and again, and hopefully at some point they would be able to create a Poem.

Exactly same is with photography: if we study it constantly we could learn how to express our thoughts in a more structured way.

“With photography a new language has been created”
– Ernst Haas

ErnstHaas-3rdAvenue-Reflection-NYC-1952

Photography is a form of a non-verbal Communication

Photography is a way of self-expression with intend to convey thoughts and Life statements to the viewer as the photographer feels those.

Don't shoot what it looks like.
Shoot what it feels like.
— David Alan Harvey

DavidAlanHarvey-WorkHorseOnAfamily-sPorch-Cuba1998

The Photograph has to communicate and if there was nothing to be said it won't have any meaning. From this perspective, photography is extremely close to the music, painting and especially to the writing.

An Author's presence is fairly important

If the photograph is meaningless to a photographer, why would it be meaningful to a viewer? An Author's presence is fairly important.

Mozart was not creating his 40th Symphony to be beautiful (it would be even hardly suitable for dancing). He conveyed emotions, fullfiled it with a lot of movement and narrative, he composed it with rhythms and phrases, with accents and pauses with enough space for multiple interpretations.[1]

Cultural theorists simultaneously fret that photography's ubiquity in contemporary visual culture has debased its force as an art form or as a mode of self-expression.[2]

A photograph is the illusion of a literal description

“A photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how the camera ‘saw’ a piece of time and space."
— Garry Winogrand

GarryWinogrand-MoMA-Dallas-1964


P.S. I've picked Logogram[3] from the Denis's Villeneuve Arrival movie (ref. Imdb) because the story teaches that Communication is key to thrive not only in a nation but as a larger community across the World.


  1. Although the most common perception today is that the symphony is tragic in tone and intensely emotional, Charles Rosen called it "a work of passion, violence, and grief". ↩︎

  2. "Photographers Scetchbooks" by Stephen McLaren and Bryyan Formhals ↩︎

  3. Logogram © Martine Bertrand - MOTION PICTURES ARRIVAL INK ON PAPER ↩︎

What is Photography
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