on landscape The online magazine for landscape photographers

The Path Towards Expression – part 2

Personal and expressive photography

Rafael Rojas

Rafael Rojas (Master Hasselblad 2014, MA Photography, ARPS), is a Swiss and Spanish full-time artist photographer, lecturer, author, and creativity mentor. He has been involved in teaching most of his life, first helping young students, then teaching undergrads, and later as a university lecturer.

Nowadays, his teaching activities focus on helping photographers see the world with different eyes and use photography as a tool of personal and creative expression.

After seven years of work, the MasterCOURSE “Photography with Intent”, an intensive mentoring program for Expressive Photographers, has become the apex of his teaching career and his utmost contribution to the Community of Photographers.


Go into yourself and test the deeps in which your life takes rise; at its source you will find the answer to the question whether you must create… Search for the reason that bids you write; find out whether it is spreading out its roots in the deepest places of your heart, acknowledge to yourself whether you would have to die if it were denied you to write.~ Rainer Maria Rilke


This is the second article of my series about Expressive Photography. In the first article, I tackled the common evolution of the photographer towards the path of personal expression (click here to read the article). In this article, I would like to ponder: what is expressive photography? What does it take to reach this level in your photography? Which traits or characters tend to define the philosophy and modus operandi of the expressive photographer?

Personal and expressive photography

Photography is a medium that offers limitless possibilities. We can use it for very different reasons, with very different purposes and in order to reach very different audiences.

When it comes to music, writing, or painting, we tend to make a clear distinction between the different ways in which these mediums work. We instantly grasp that a poem has a different purpose, motivation, and target audience than an obituary in the newspaper.

For some reason, however, many people tend to put all forms of photography into the same bag, as if all photographic images are made with the same purpose and motivation. This is, of course, not a good idea. The definition of the word “photography” is “writing with light,” and in fact, that is what we are doing every time we press the shutter. Just like when we are writing, we are using a language, visual this time, which instead of using words, syntax, and grammar, uses visual elements like tone, colour, contrast, shapes, lines, and textures.

This is a premium article and requires a paid subscription to access. Please take a look at the subscribe page for more information on prices.

On Landscape is part of Landscape Media Limited , a company registered in England and Wales . Registered Number: 07120795. Registered Office: 1, Clarke Hall Farm, Aberford Road, WF1 4AL. Midge Specs, midge net glasses from the Highlands.