The colourful language of photography

Photography is a visual language that can communicate a range from emotions to simple facts, but photography isn’t quite as straightforward as it seems.  Yes at its core is a representation of the reality in front of the camera, but what you frame and what you exclude determines how the image may be read.  The key is ‘may be read’ because even more than words photographs are open to the interpretation of the viewer.  This fact was highlighted for me recently while reading some commentary on the internet about a court case regarding the sale of an Eggleston print.  Many people seemed unaware of Eggleston’s work and couldn’t imagine why anyone would want a print of a tricycle let alone pay large sums of money for it.

I think that some of the misunderstanding comes from a reading of the image from our moment in time and a failure to see it in the context of the time it was created.  In this age of the cell phone image its hard to imagine the break from the past that was occurring when Eggleston and  a few others embarked on an expansion of the photographic lexicon, bringing colour in.

Thank you Mr. Eggleston, there is some great further reading at the Eggleston Trust.  And now for some of my own banality taking with my Pentax K-7

We may be numbed by the volume of imagery around, and this is even stronger for those of us that look at thousands of images on purpose, but it’s through the reading of many images that you develop a keen sense of the language.  And it’s through understanding the language that you are better able to articulate your vision.


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