PhotoChat; Photography Philosophy

PhotoChat is a weekly conversation between Photography Pro’s and Amateurs that takes place on Thursdays at 1PM EST hosted by Prime Social Marketing. To follow the conversation or take part use #Photochat on Twitter.

This blog post covers my longer answers to the questions that are condensed then put into tweets for the Photochat.

This Weeks Topic Is Photography Philosophy

Q1: What exactly does a photograph represent? Does it present a truthful view of the subject?

Photography for me is an interpretation of reality, the camera though does not interpret it, the interpretation is controlled by the photographer and or the editor.


Cropped and “unzoomed” versions of iconic photographs that show more context than their famous cropped counterparts. It’s interesting to see what photographers and photo editors chose to keep and what they chose to throw away.
Tank Man, or the Unknown Rebel, is the nickname of an anonymous man who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks the morning after the Chinese military forcibly removed protesters from in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. The man achieved widespread international recognition due to the videotape and photographs taken of the incident.

The photographer has control of where he is pointing the camera, what he is putting into the frame and also what he is leaving out. The interpretation can also be changed by the choice of lens, and film and even camera manufacturer.
Before colour film the whole world was seen photographically in black and white . With colour there became two worlds and now with digital the worlds of interpretation widen.

A camera never tells the truth, just the story which the photographer wants told. In the end it is the photographer that makes the picture, the camera is a tool to take it.

The problem with interpretation is that everyone can interpret something different meaning that even if you create a true image, people may interpret as a lie and vis a vis.

There is no truth in photography just light and shadows.


Popularized un cropped and cropped versions of Guerrillero Heroico – Che Guevara at the funeral for the victims of the La Coubre explosion.

Q2: How do you judge a photograph for quality? What qualities make a particular photo remarkable?


One of my Images that I believe is remarkable.

Light, Composition, Colour, Subject and Focus, these are the components that I feel make a good photograph and where I beginning judging a photograph. What makes an image remarkable for me, makes me want to see more, to ask questions and find out more about the scene. It is this intrigue that makes a remarkable image.

Q3: What purpose does a photograph serve? To document a physical event? To capture an emotion? Something more?

Photography is a democratic medium especially now, nearly everyone can take pictures. And these pictures have multiple uses. Sometimes photographs do document an event or a time, be it photojournalism, documentary photography or even family snap shots. Though each document has different layers depending on the viewer, this could be factual giving historians a feel for the event or can be memories.


Family Photo taken on my Holiday. Taken for the memories as it was the first time in nearly 10 years the whole family had been together. Possibly may not happen again.

Really the image is dictated by the intention of the photographer. When I am taking pictures on vacation they could be for my photo album or for something else. In the end I decide what the purpose of the image is.
If shooting for stock the purpose of the image is to be applicable for as many people and then the buyer changes the purpose.


This was taken on the same holiday walking around the harbor. I intended this to be one of my photographic works going towards a portfolio.

It could be said that the purpose of photography is to convey an idea though the image. The idea though is the photographers.

Q4: What makes photography art? Or has the medium become oversaturated and arguably moved away from the arts?

I never really want to try and define art and what is and is not. It brings flashbacks from drunken discussions with the contemporary art students.

I think that there is a lot of people who want their work to be art and it won’t be and there is a lot of work that doesn’t want to be art and it becomes art. I feel that art is dictated by an establishment and that there are fashions and trends in art. Photography is art when it is decided it is.

I think that there is a lot of photography in the art world but some of it not just created.

Q5: What makes photography a meaningful, valuable pursuit?


For me photography is a way to tell stories and express ideas that I am otherwise unable to express. It is an avenue for communication. This for me makes it a valuable pursuit.

I would love to know what your opinions to the questions are. Do you agree or disagree with my answers? Either way you can let me know using the comment box below.

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