on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

On Meaning in Photography

When an image is more than the sum of it's parts

Photographic description alone will never be inspirational, never make a heart beat faster, never bring a tear to another's face. To achieve these things emotional messages must somehow be woven seamlessly into the photographic representation. But beyond what is baldly described by the light captured in a scene, the exact meaning of photographs is elusive. We read them but it’s not like reading prose, there’s no dictionary that we can refer to for definitions. Every viewer reads them in a subtly different way and their meaning may also alter for different viewings by the same viewer. Photographs’ descriptive power is almost overwhelming, sometimes it’s as if the images shout about the contents of their frame. Yet, almost lost in the cacophony of detail, deeper messages are being whispered. Despite the difficulty of hearing them, we know that the messages are there because we know that photographs can move us.

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