The Photo is the Window to the Soul

26 Oct

“The mission of photography is to explain man to man and each man to himself.” Edward Steichen

Photography is, like any other art, more than just a moment frozen in time. It’s more than film and digital sensors, its more than paper, it’s more than chemicals and ink… Pictures give us insight into how a photographer sees the world.

Now, in my experience, there are two main reasons a photographer picks up his or her camera…because they were tasked with accomplishing a goal (hired for an event, hired to create an image for a product or of a product, taking an image with a specific use in mind, etc) or because they want to create an image for themselves.

The first idea – building a preconceived image from the bottom up – may or may not allow for much personal expression. For example, if you were hired to take images of a new product to be used in a marketing campaign, you’re often given a concept and stipulations. In that case, your role is to bring someone else’s vision to life but you will find – especially once you have determined your own unique style – that the images will still have elements that you’re comfortable with. If you prefer things to be uncluttered, with lots of open space, your marketing shots will likely incorporate that while still following the plan given to you by the client. After all, they knew your style when they hired you.

On the other hand, if the original concept was yours or you’re creating an image for yourself and you have free creative rein, the resulting image will likely be a strong mirror for who you are. Your subject matter, your color scheme, even your final editing and sizing decisions will give a perceptive onlooker clues about who you are.

For example, does your image contain bright colors, with lots of red and yellow tones? Or, conversely, are your images dark, with muted colors…perhaps a strong blue overtone, even if the subject may not call for it?

Barn in CT - Blue

Barn in CT - Blue

Americans subconsciously tend to associate blue overtones as “cold” or “sad”…while bright and cheery colors may lend the same photo a completely different, “happier” feel.

Barn in CT - Sepia


Do you have a strong affinity for traditional print sizes (4×6, 5×7, 8×10), or are you willing to try creative crops to bring the best out in an image? Either way, what does that say about you?

Does your choice in subject matter reflect how you feel at a given time in your life?

In the end, photography is so much more than pressing a button. The photos we produce can carry a deeper meaning…. Our style, our edits, our composition all give clues not just to what we like or dislike, but may be symbolic of who we are at that particular moment in our life’s journey. It’s not just a picture…it’s how we see the world.

Product of the week:

One Response to “The Photo is the Window to the Soul”


  1. The Stanley Cup Playoffs! | - April 22, 2012

    […] mood – works in conjunction with color balance an image.  I’ve talked about that in the past here.  The texture aspect of it helps to give the viewer an impression of something.  For example, a […]

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