What Is Your Image About?



James Popsys is a professional photographer based in the UK.


In an interview with 99 Percent Lifestyle James talks about his photography and what inspires him to be a creator.


He stresses the importance of vision in photography:


“Since cameras are getting better all the time you only really need to master some basic techniques to take great photos now. More photos are produced now than ever before so if you want to be heard, you need to be different.


James says that taking photos of stuff doesn’t interest him, he wants to make photos about stuff.


Whenever he critiques images that are sent to him, he judges a good photo to be one that is about something rather than of something.


I have tried to put this idea into practice in my photography, as for the most part I agree that photos that are about something have more interest for the viewer and are more likely to draw the viewer’s attention than photos of something.

However, sometimes the difference between a photo being of something and being about something can be very subtle and it can be difficult to make the distinction.


I try to ask myself when I am taking the photo – What do I want the photo to be about?


The two images below might explain how I interpret this question.


The first image is an image of a bluebell woods. It is a standard, quick image that anyone who visits this woodland might take. I took this with my phone camera.



The second image has the addition of the little girl walking down the path and she is captured at a point between the trees.


The second image is about the bluebell woods. It tells a story of people in the woods who are not always there, so it is about something that happened at that moment on that day.


The image above might appear to be just another photo of the bluebell woods, but on this occasion my intention was to capture the light coming through the trees. The image is about something. It tells the story of how the weather was at the time of capture, and how sunlight enhances and changes the feel of the image.


IT'S ALL ABOUT INTENTION


In the example below, the image might at first appear to be an image of a tree. However, my intention was to compose the image so that it emphasizes the way the tree leans over to frame the seating area on the opposite side of the water. It is about the tree creating a natural frame.



This could be just an image of sunset. But it's not. It's an image about shape and colour and about the beauty created by nature.


Photographs that are about something include an intent.


If I simply press the shutter and take a picture then my photo will be a photo of the thing I have taken.


If I have an intention regarding what I want to shoot then my final image is more likely to be about something.


The difference may be subtle, but it is there.

This is not just a random image of sticks in a hedge. It is an image about shape and an example of how shape is found all around us in nature.


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Do you agree with James Popsys that images should be about something rather than of something?


What are your images about?