The meaning is often already in the mind of the observer.
Your photograph does not need to show everything. The mind is a fertile environment for filling in the rest. What you need to do is convey a sense of what is going on.
What we want to do…
…is capture the scene. We have an overwhelming need to show people what is going on. The new photographer will want to show the scene – everything the eye can see. After all you want people to know what you have seen and experienced when you were there. The meaning of the scene is in the experience of its fullness. Or so we want to think.
The mind is a filter
No one truly sees what you see – even if you do show the whole scene and make a great job of it. Everyone wears special glasses, called a perceptual filter. It creates a unique world for each of us. We all see a world around us coloured by our previous experiences, disappointments, loves, wants, hates, wishes, actions, history – everything. From our inner selves we impart meaning into everything we see.
For the artist and photographer
We can take advantage of this perceptual filter. A good picture will communicate meaning to the viewer. It will tap into that perceptual filter and set free something in the mind of the observer that stimulates them. Your picture will be all the more compelling if you stimulate that inner meaning. The detail of something may do that more effectively than the whole scene. It is often the tiniest things that set us off down memory lane.