Photography Basics – photography as communication

Photography Basics – photography as communication

Photography as communication

Imagery (mostly Photography) has become such an important part of communication in modern times. A photo can be priceless in books, newspapers advertisements etc. Or on the internet where people demand fast loading pages with web optimised images. The reason you click the shutter is because you want to share the best parts of your environment with others from your perspective. If you have communication in mind when you take the picture, then your photograph will have a communication value.

I believe that a photo can say what words might struggle to, and vice versa.

Landscape Poetry

Communicating a scene or an object in photography is similar to communicating in writing. It makes more sense if there is an order. Sentence take if we a word up jumble… Sorry, if we take a sentence and jumble the words up, it has the same contents, but the meaning is lost. At the other extreme a poet can arrange the words to provoke feelings and thoughts outside of the sentence. In a visual way a photographer has to arrange the subjects/ objects in a scene so that they make sense, and artists will arrange object/ subjects in a scene to provoke emotions. Because a photograph
captures a moment in time, the timing of your photography is an important part of how a photograph communicates.

Deepness & Light

Landscape photographers aim to communicate a spatial perspective (where things are in relation to the viewer). They will communicate depth through composition, focus, focal length and light. They usually want everything to be in focus, so that it feels like you are there in the scene, but to invite you into the scene, the landscaper will use objects carefully to invite you in. Imagine two parts of a wide river, one is just water from bank to bank, the other has stepping stones. You will likely pay more attention to the part with stepping stones because even if you don’t want to cross, the invite is there and this provokes thought. The landscape photographer will find objects in the foreground which invite you to wander into the picture.

Composition and exposure: use of magic cloth to darken the sky area retains the detail, but also helps the sense of distance. Including the foreground textures gives the viewer a lot of information about the depth of those first few meters.

Communicate with focus

A skilled photographer can use sharpness to communicate. “Sharpness’ is achieved with focus, aperture and post-processing. A large aperture such as f/2.8 will allow the portrait photographer to focus on a very narrow plain, i.e. the face or eyes, and everything else will fall out of focus. This works as communication because it is holding your attention on a very specific part of the image. A shallow DOF is unavoidable in macro or close-up photography and the images have a 3D feel. Focus is one way of isolating the subject from the background.
cat and mouse

Focus on the mouse with shallow DOF

Communicating emotion

In photographic art, the most important communication is that of emotion. You want the viewer to share your feeling of when you were there. This basically comes down to being able to compose, expose and focus while being in the right place at the right time. Easy right? No! you have to practice, composition, focus & exposure and be at many different places at different times until you get the combination.

To achieve this, the image has to show the nature of the subject at it’s best (or worst), but at the same time, in it’s purest form. To put it another way, powerful yet simple. I mean that the composition arrangement and focus is forcing a human perspective of a Natural Beauty, I suppose like a redesign, but without trying to improve on it, only to communicate the sense of beauty.

Doing this doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. Fit everything you want into the frame and use a Compact camera, this can work very well with the right kind of light and if you don’t want to print large. But photography gets closer to art when the photographer communicates well. Being able to control the focus, depth of field and exposure with a good composition and the ability to print it LARGE. That’s the difference. Like some other visual arts, photography has a “time” element. A fast shutter can communicate emotion, but either freezing an incredible moment, or showing the “eternity of Nature” like a long exposure landscape of waterfall scene.

Dynjandi vertical mono


Have any of you tried to sell things on the internet? Is there a better way to communicate what you have for sale than with a photograph?

Ice Gorge

Ice Gorge

This is at the Fjaðrargljufur river canyon in South East Iceland. The unassuming river winds like a snake between the rocks.

Blue Wing

Blue Wing

We had driven to Jökulsarlon very early and could see that a good sunrise was developing, but there was very little ice on the beach.

My Gear on Amazon

Buying through these ads generates a little extra income for me and helps to pay for the website.
Canon 5D - full frame This is a heavy duty camera than I have used in all weathers. It has a very Powerful live-view and great quality images.
Canon EF 24mm f/1.4 l This lens was all I needed for many years. Sharp from corner to corner, makes it a champion for landscape details.
Canon 135mm f/1.2L Wonderfully sharp!
Medium weight Tripod My Gitzo has been on the ice beach a thousand times and is still strong.

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