What Can Be Said About A Photograph
Photographs can be considered abstract works of art. Often, they are used as propaganda to evoke strong feelings, document a story, provide a snapshot into a person’s life, or perhaps capture a memory of a graduation or a wedding.
I have taken many different photographs, ranging from wildlife to portraits; from fine art to journalistic. As a photographer, I have ultimate control of what this photograph will become. I choose what to focus on, such as the angle and zoom of the shot. Plus I might just take over a dozen different shots of the same object. Each shot will have a different feel to it, depending on what I left in or out, as well as what is in focus and what is out of focus.
The featured photograph of this article, “Magic Hour,” was one of six shots that I took of that same scene over two years ago. One shot was zoomed in, cutting out the trees, so just the sky can be seen. Another photograph showed an even a wider view than the one above, with several more trees in the shot. I never published those other shots onto my website, nor did I add titles. They were all good photographs, but they did not have the right feel.
A photograph evokes different emotions from each viewer. As for me, the photographer, I chose it for the feeling evoked by the contrast of beauty and darkness. The trees are black, the sky is bright orange and yellow, and the big clouds near the top of the image are dark and ominous, yet there is a bit of color in them also. I believe the photo has a feeling of summer and autumn. The sunset looks like a July sunset, while the clouds look to be from a colder fall day.
To clarify my point, I will conclude with a different photograph. It is clear it is a collapsed bridge over water. But what happened? This photograph is a journalistic photograph I took, and you won’t know what happened until I tell you.
This photograph was taken in June of 2006, when I was down in Mississippi helping with Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. I took many photographs there: of my fellow volunteers working and playing, of the destruction, and of the people we met and helped.
I took many photographs of this bridge also, which some zoomed in showing the destruction even better. I choose this one to post because it shows a clear view of how long and torn up that bridge was, which gives the viewer a better grasp of the hurricane Katrina’s damage.
I could show a dozen more photographs, but these two will do. The first one should catch your gaze with the beauty and darkness of the sunset, and perhaps fill your mind with different thoughts and memories. The next one, without anything to call beauty in the photograph, captures a moment of history. A moment I hope no one will forget.
This article was edited by Jeri Walker-Bickett.