Make It Mean Something

Today I will talk about an odd situation I have encountered. I want to take more photos. However, I have been spending a lot of time looking at my photos and at other people’s collections and I’ve noticed that there are far too many photos that don’t speak. Photos that don’t say anything at all about the world, or about humanity, or about anything at all.

I have photos of flowers and buildings and signs and mailboxes and grass and clouds and trees and basketball rims. And they don’t tell a story, they don’t reveal anything about me or anyone else. Perhaps this is misguided, because sometimes a close-up of a flower can be used to add some fine texture to an image and I’ve used other photos in my collection for many projects. A photo collection with a picture of everything can be a great resource. But my images often aren’t worth a thousand words and I think they should be.

It seems to be common among folks that are learning about photography to go through an initial phase where they photograph everything around them, learning how to use the camera, about lighting, about composition, subject, and other things. But I think those are like learning Gestalt principles and color theory in graphic design, you need to know and understand it, but that is not sufficient to make your work great. And we so rarely aspire to be adequate.

Kevin Hall