Tag Archives: Artistic photography

Expression in your photography is you

Expression :: Put you into your portfolio

• Expression :: Put you into your portfolio •
[Image taken from the video below].

Let go of other peoples expectations

Photographers often say about their work that they “should” be doing this or that. Or, maybe they say they would be “better” doing this instead of that with their work. Often that just adds up to a statement about their aspirations. Often these aspirations are reactions to what they think people want. They are not true expressions of who they really are.

It is all too easy for us to fall foul of fashion and social pressure in our photography. Amateur and professional alike, photogs are artists. True expression is really about what we feel. Not what we do to meet the expectations of fashion or popular interest.

Expression – understanding our inner selves

When we are truly satisfied with a photo it’s not because we think everyone else is going to think it’s great. It is because we know we have done something good. We’ve done something that really expresses how we feel about the shot we have just made. Expression is our inner artist coming out.

I met a photographer once who thought, when he got started, that it was all about glamour and glory. He tried hard for four or five years to be “be a professional photographer”. He did everything his boss told him. He took the pictures his boss said would make him successful. He worked continually to meet the goals set by the photographic fashions and the aspirations his boss had for him. He even did a part time college course and learnt all the academic and background ideas. He did as he was told, learnt the trade – and failed.

Twenty years later, when I met him, he was working as a local government officer. I asked him why he had given up photography. He told me he had not. He gave up being a pro-photographer and for a long time did not pick up a camera. Then, one day, years later he did. And, he discovered what photography was really about. It is about expression.

What he’d not seen in those heady days when learning the trade was his own inner artist. Everything he did was for others. All his pictures were motivated by external influences. Then, years later, when the pressure was off he discovered something. Actually photography is a very hands on, gritty sort of profession. There really is not much glamour. But there is a lot you can say about the world. A photographer, like any artist needs to let themselves out. The expression of what they feel about a scene is what they should be working on. Not what everyone else thinks should be said about a scene.

Expression IS photography

Make sure your pictures say something. Let people know who you are through your pictures. Tell them what you are interested in. Communicate with them through your images. Make pictures in their minds. Expression is everything in photography. It says “I love this”, or “that is important”, or “my heart was in this scene”… or whatever. Expression IS photography.

Who you are goes deeper than your portfolio

Here is a short video clip with a famous photographer, Jeremy Cowart Expression :: Jeremy Cowert | External link - opens new tab/page. It shows something many photographers forget. When your pictures reach out to someone, the influence is more profound than the talent of technical excellence. Telling people who you are and what you are thinking through your pictures is a powerful expression.
Uploaded by CreativeLive


What’s Your Mark? Every Moment Counts Expression :: Book review - What's Your Mark?: Every Moment Counts | External link - opens new tab/page | External link - opens new tab/page
In this extraordinary book Jeremy Cowen delivers amazing photography. With it he tells some equally extraordinary stories. The book breaches the boundaries of ordinary coffee-table photography books. The stories cut straight to the heart. Human interest and art do live together. This book brings that out.
What’s Your Mark? Every Moment Counts by Jeremy Cowart (Photographer) and Brad Davis (Designer), Expression :: Book review - What's Your Mark?: Every Moment Counts | External link - opens new tab/page | External link - opens new tab/page

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Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photographer and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photogs.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.
By Damon Guy see his profile on Google+.

Your exposure is simply the way you want to see the image


There is no such thing as the perfect exposure, only the one you favour.

Expose to see what you want to see.

The truth is, your exposure can be anything you want. The issue is what do you want it to be? Are you a technical photographer or an artist? Lets look at the options…

The technical photographer

The technical photographer tends to put the emphasis on exposure being “correct” at the balance point in the triangle of exposure. The aim of the exposure is to produce a bright representation of the scene. The technical photographer is concerned with getting the settings “right” and the scene summed up in a “realistic” representation of what they saw. The technical photographer tends to be more concerned with recording the scene.

The artistic approach

For the artistic photographer there is more interest in composition and representation of the scene as as they want to depict it. They are more intent on passing a message to the viewers of the image. They want to create a picture that stimulates emotion and strong feelings. The artistic photographer has an idea. They want to make a photograph to fulfil the idea, express the emotion, tell the story. The artist is concerned with communication, not representation.

The spectrum of types

Of course these two extremes are not really as polarised as I have made out here. We all have elements of both of these personalities in our photography. The artist needs to know about the technical side in order to have artistic control over their work. The technical photographer needs to make the picture to suit the light and the scene. At least some interpretation is needed in the technical approach.

The issue here is about exposure. Sometimes we want to present a shot with the exposure on the darker, more subdued side. We are going for mood maybe, or using light to express itself strongly through shadow. The extreme is the very dark shot, what we might call a low key shot. On the opposite end of the scale is the high key shot – bright, white – strong bright, tending to over-exposure.

When we take an exposure with a DSLR we normally centre the camera meter reading. Supposing we want to take a picture like the portrait above, slightly underexposed. If we are working with the camera in full manual mode we can simply under-expose by doing one of the following: narrowing the Aperture, lowering the ISO or using a faster Shutter Speed. The opposite is also true. You can over-expose too. In other words you can creatively make what you want out of your shot by controlling the exposure. In the portrait above I wanted to emphasis the strong maleness of my subject. The strong shadows provided the vehicle for that. So the slight under-exposure complemented the already low lights… just what I was looking for.

In the case of the semi-manual modes, the option for full control of the exposure is not available. However, the exposure compensation dial can be called into play. If you want to under expose you can dial to the negative side. If you want to over expose slightly then dial to the positive side. This frees up your exposure to bias the result in favour of your creative idea. Check out the manual for your camera to see how the exposure compensation dial works.

The whole complex of variables that affect exposure, ISO, Shutter speed and Aperture settings are an interaction of functions that allow us to control our image. If we ignore the “ideal” exposure indicated by the camera light meter we actually have a whole world of potentially creative controls. There is no such thing as the perfect exposure. If you are a technical photographer you can still free up your exposure to make a photograph that expresses what you see in a scene. If you are an artist, you can be quite technical about exactly the exposure you want.

Enjoy your exposures. There is no such thing as perfection, and that applies to photographic exposure too. But there is a perfectly good exposure for every photograph… that is the one you want.

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By Damon Guy (author and Photokonnexion editor)

Damon Guy - Netkonnexion

Damon Guy (Netkonnexion)

Damon is a writer-photog and editor of this site. He has run some major websites, a computing department and a digital image library. He started out as a trained teacher and now runs training for digital photographers.
See also: Editors ‘Bio’.