Photography Insights and Techniques

One might ask what photography is. What is the purpose of taking a photograph? For some, just a simple snap shot will do but, for others, there is more of a destiny to experience in the photograph. Photography captures a split second in time or, simply put, a moment captured in a blink of an eye. Photographers create illusions of realism which resembles the existent world with content and form that are inseparable. In effect, the photographer has generated a story all their own.

Photography is made from anything perceived. Seeing is believing when the moment is captured on film regardless of the subject matter. No matter how many pictures are taken of the same subject by different individuals, the photographs will never be the same “style” because the subject is in the eye of the beholder. For example, you may like that shiny red 57′ Chevy in the front of the coffee shop, so you take a photograph. Your friend loves the seat in front of the coffee shop window with the reflection of the 57′ Chevy in the glass. There are two distinctly separate shots of the same subject but, emotionally, they are very different images. No two artists are identical and different viewers will never see the same photograph in the same manner. Photographs generate a mood that creates an emotion and they can be background or landscapes or nothing but a mere rust spot with texture.

Photography not only captures that instantaneous moment in time but also captures a visual reality. Photography, when it was first invented, was used to represent the world accurately with little room or depiction of artistic ability. Thus, the photographer could have been anyone in the crowd, and that person brought forth the way things looked at the time-showing the world what is to be perceived.

This is not the ways of photography in the 20th century. Photography is now a truly unique art form, and a photograph can hold two and three dimensional space, as well as a one point perspective. Photography gives us the opportunity for aestheticism our everyday world. Our attention is focused on what we would normally dismiss our attention focuses on seeing beyond the believable giving a visual sensation to our minds. A photograph can be captured in one-sixtieth of a second by the shutters of the camera. In effect, art happens in the “blink of an eye”.

Since Kodak introduced the first hand held camera in 1888, giving photography a new mission and meaning, the world has never been the same. However, the technological advances have affected photography. It has strengthened the use of a camera and allowed the photographer far more precise subjective perceptions of the subject matter. According the book The World of Art, Life Magazine started publication in 1936, and American photography used photography as their tool of disclosure. “Pictures can be beautiful, but must tell facts too,” reveals the text. Photographers must include real life recognition with lines and rhythms of the surface because, without this, the photograph would be unresponsive. As an interesting insight, a horizontal photograph is peaceful; a photograph with less foreground brings dramatization and a photograph with more foreground shows nature connected with unity.

Photography is different than other art medium, yet the classical compositions brought together by the artists of yesteryears are still used. Photography has many techniques and art forms that differ greatly. For instance, there is black and white photography that the photographer can develop easily in even a small amount of space. According to photographer and Professor of Art Mike Wonser, a dark room can be set up in a bathroom. The light must be blocked out, but the photographs can be developed in the bath tub! So, you do not need much space to work and it is magic to watch the photograph appear. Another simple technique was shared by George Jolokai. He stated “a photographer can carry a bottle of water to add shininess or reflections on the subject matter”. The magic of photography is endless.

Another tool used in photography is the use of slow or fast shutter speeds. Slow shutter speeds can blur water, but the use of slow shutter speeds requires a tri-pod to prevent blurring the entire photograph. The water will blur because water is in constant motion but the background or other subject matter in the photograph remains still.

Another form of photography is that of color photography. Color brings depth and musical rhythm and is a very powerful tool to the human senses. Color photography creates a complex interplay between form and content that can create dynamic color contrasts. The photograph process takes time because critical technical decisions must come from the photographer before the release of shutter that results in the capturing of an essence of time and mood on film.

The basic elements of style, composition, and technique are the photographer’s tools for structure; it is the photographer’s imagination that leaves an impression embedded the minds of the viewer.


Joloki, George (2004, Spring). Lecture Art 101, Central Oregon Community College, Bend< Oregon

Sayre, Henry M. (2004) A World of Art (4th ed.) Pearson Prentice Hall.

Wonser, M. (2004, Spring). Art History 203, Central Oregon Community College, Bend< Oregon

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