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How a YouTube Video Enhanced My Comprehension of Expressive Photography

Updated: May 7


I have been looking at the Google Analytics of my website over the last number of months and I notice that my most popular post has consistently been What is Expressive Photography and How Can it Change Your Photography Practice?

This surprised me as I haven’t used the title in recent posts.

However, I believe that the concept of expressive photography underpins all my photography practice, that it is at the heart of everything I do in photography, because essentially, I believe photography to be a response to what speaks to me in my environment.

For me, expressive photography is about being open to the opportunities we are presented with and responding creativity to these opportunities.

It is about enjoying photography for ourselves, rather than making images that will please others.

Expressive photography is not a separate genre of photography, it is a way of photographing in any genre.

It is expressing ourselves through our photography.

Expressive photography is an emotional response. It represents our sensitivity and connection to the world around us, and how we want to convey that connection.

We might decry the overuse of social media for photography yet so many people are practising expressive photography when they stop at a scene that catches their eye and take a picture that is their emotional response to what they've seen. When we do photography in this way our images become our creative response to what we are drawn to in the world.

At times I will create an image of a landscape or of part of a landscape. At other times I may be drawn to photograph the beauty of flowers or the majestic trees in a forest.

I may feel drawn to a place. I love to capture old things; objects that show how people lived before our time or places that have a story to tell. I often photograph certain subjects, such as trees in an ancient woodland or perspectives of old buildings, as an expression of this interest.

I am drawn to water in its many forms, and I like to respond to that connection through the images I make. When close to water I don’t try to control the images I make, I let the water and my feelings on the occasion decide how to respond.


It might just be a raindrop...


...or a reflection in a puddle!

How a YouTube Video Enhanced My Comprehension of Expressive Photography

Expressive photography involves our emotions, our mood, our unique way of seeing, and it seeks to articulate meaning through the subjects we choose to respond to and the images we choose to make.

While I believe that expressing myself through my photographs is at the heart of all my photography, I have struggled to accurately define the term expressive photography.

Recently, when watching a YouTube video from well known photographer Thomas Heaton, I heard something that clarified my understanding of what expressive photography means to me.

On a photography trip to Scotland Thomas Heaton met Alister Benn, award winning landscape photographer and founder of Expressive Photography Limited.

The resulting video, Learning How To Enjoy Photography No Matter What, includes a fascinating discussion on Alister Benn’s outlook on photography, how he defines expressive photography and what it means to his photography practice.

During the discussion Alister Benn referred to the fact that many photographers judge the quality of time they have spent in the landscape by the photographs they make rather than on the experience.

The discussion which followed really resonated with me and helped to enhance my understanding of what expressive photography means.


abstract leaves

When I practice expressive photography I don't have to judge my images, I just capture what draws my eye.

abstract flowers

Experimenting with different techniques has helped me to express myself through my photography. I particularly like abstract photography where there are no rules to follow, just my own creative ideas.


Experimenting with macro or close-up photography is a great way to express yourself through photography as each image is unique. How you capture each image is an expression of your mood and your preference.


I strive to express myself through my photography, regardless of the genre. Whether it’s landscape or street photography, macro or ICM, I want my photography to be my way of speaking through my camera.

I want my photography to reflect who I am, what I value, what interests me.

When I do photography in this way it becomes more meaningful and creative and I have the freedom to allow my interests and my curiosity to decide what I will photograph, rather than the expectations of other people or of social media.

Seeing my photography as an expressive pursuit gives me the opportunity to document my perspective on life and on the things I see, and that’s what I love to do.

If you would like a deeper understanding of expressive photography you might like to check out Alister Benn's YouTube channel.





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