Monday, April 9, 2012

The Photographer's Choices

It has been said that there are only two things the photographer controls:
  • Where to stand
  • When to press the button

While not literally true, this captures a lot of it. What's less obvious is just how much control this gives the photographer. Unpacking these choices a bit, we find choices like these:
  • What's the subject?
  • What else is in-frame?
  • What is left out of frame?
  • How are things lit in-frame?
  • From what point of view to we see the subject?

and we're not even talking about post-processing yet.

The photographer can eliminate evidence from the frame, choose a child's point of view, view the scene from afar or from up close, or make it look like night.

The photographer can choose to eliminate color entirely, or render color falsely. In post processing, even mild post processing, the contrast and light can be altered to enhance the mood or change it entirely. Things in-frame can be emphasized, de-emphasized, or removed entirely.

These are all things the photographer can and necessarily does, do to remove the image from the realm of merely recorded reality. These choices are the means by which the photographer attracts the viewer's eye, and engages the viewer's mind. These are the nouns and verbs of the visual language the photographer uses to communicate more merely a representation of the subject would communicate.

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