Tag Archives: Definition

Do you really understand what photography is?

A photography definition? The ramblings of a madman…

A photography definition is not easy. What we do with a camera is record part of the world where we point the lens. Right? Then again, you probably realise that is not true. Especially if you have been reading this blog for a while.

The lens does not faithfully record the world. The picture is always slightly distorted. Numerous technical processes are involved in the translation of a scene into a picture. These each add their own distortions and variations on the original scene. The unique approach taken by the photographer in framing the shot creates its own view of the world too. That view will be different to the next man. The perceptive filter of the viewer also affects what is seen. What is finally conjured up is an image beyond the mere recording.

So, what on earth is this thing we call photography? It certainly is not a mere technical record. Nor is it a simple interpretation of a scene. Those two roots are important. They are not the full story for a real photography definition.

Toward a good photography definition

I noticed I had not written a definition of photography in the “Photographic Glossary“. The latter is a collection of articles which has gradually grown with this blog. It’s now a good intro and background to a wide range of words, phrases, concepts and items of equipment. It is still growing. It’s on the menu at the top of every page. Or you can click this image and go there now…
Photography definition :: Link to the general Glossary

I wrote a definition of photography. In it I followed the conventions of most dictionaries. But there is more to a photography definition than technical sufficiency.


While researching a definition for “photography” I came across a whole range of explanations. They amounted to descriptive statements about:

  • derivation of the words related to photography;
  • the photographic act;
  • processes involved in doing photography;
  • post production processing of the image;
  • The history of the subject
  • the technical issues;
  • prediction about the future.

This is all interesting stuff. However, I found it sterile.

It is important for ‘meaning’ to be attached to feeling. A technical description of the process of photography (film or digital) is interesting but devoid of personal meaning. I am a committed photographer. I love to do photography and I invest a huge part of my life in its pursuit. To me it is not a technical process, although I go through a technical process to “do photography”. It is not just the statement about the meaning of a word (see – Definition: photography). Neither is it simply a picture. I am hoping that my picture will stimulate a living, three dimensional image in the mind of my viewers. If that happens then I will have created powerful image for them. That will be a successful image.

Photography is an attempt by the photographer to communicate with the viewer. Each picture may lie somewhere on the continuum between a “record” of the world and an “interpretation” of the world. No matter which end of that continuum the picture lies, it speaks to the viewer in a unique way.

My thinking…

I spent several hours trying to bring life to a photography definition. Through the technical mambo-jumbo, physical processes, history and so on, not one article adequately described our passion. So I resorted to trying to sum up how I feel. Here is what my photography definition is about…

Photography attempts to capture a view of the world with which the photographer communicates their particular meaning and perspective of a scene through a picture and, which if successful, will create a vivid, living image in the mind of the viewer.
Damon Guy, 09/06/2013 – Towards a good photography definition.

I expect to be shot down. What does “photography” mean? You tell me. Have you got a good photography definition?

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Damon Guy - Toward a photography definition.

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+.

Easy introduction to light modifiers – don’t miss out (pt 2)

Light modifiers manipulate light.

Photographic lights are shaped and controlled by the light modifier. With it you create the lighting you need. Use the right modifiers and you create the scene you want. Knowing which one to use is crucial. The resources set out here aim to help you understand what light modifiers are and what they can do.

In a previous post, Easy introduction to light modifiers (pt 1), we examined:

In this post we are looking at more of these useful tools for controlling light.


Much more open than the honeycomb are a variety of other types of grid. They are used in front of many different types of light source. The aim of a grid is to…

Beauty dish

The beauty dish is widely used in fashion industry. Photographers love it’s flattering light. Using this dish creates…

Barn doors

Originally used on film sets barn door light modifiers have a special function. They are normally fitted to…

New resource pages

Part one and part two (this post) have added a number of new resources about light modifiers to the photographic glossary. However, as a group of resources they can also be reached from the page of light resources…
Light and Lighting – Resource pages on Photokonnexion
Light modifier resources on Photokonnexion – A new page linked from the Light and lighting page.

What do you call a picture with multiple images?

Multiple images have varied names – find out more

The use of multiple images in one picture is something that has been a part of art for centuries. In fact there are many different ways of expressing yourself using multiple images. So what do you call each form? Did you realise there are different names for all the ways to present multiple images or pictures?

Well, now you have a definitive guide…

A Diptych – Two pictures in one image.

A Triptych – Three pictures in one image.

A Quadtych – Four pictures in one image.

A Polyptych – Many pictures in one image.

A Photomontage – many photographs in one image.

A Photomosaic – very many photographs, or elements of photos, creating a new pattern or picture.

A Composite – a single photograph/picture which is the amalgamation of multiple image elements which are blended together to make a complete, seamless image with one overall meaning, story or message.

A Collage – nothing to do with photography; an old technique using glue.

You can find out more about each of these by clicking the link and reading the articles in the Photographic Glossary.

Has anyone come across the word ‘photocollage’? Please let us know and give us a reference or more than one if possible… I look forward to hearing from you! See: Contact Us We would love to have your comments.

Comments, additions, amendments or ideas on this article? Please Contact Us



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’.

Contribute A Definition?

Send us a definition of a photographic word or phrase...

Send us a definition for our list of photographic words and phrases. Simply write a clear definition and send it in. Include an original picture if you can. Give us your name and a link to your website and we will credit your work.


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