What are You Trying to Say?

Updated: Apr 11, 2018

Lion’s Gate from Ambleside (120secs @ f22 ISO80)

Finding your voice is as important in photography as any other art form, and knowing what you want to say and how you best convey that message will add impact to your work. Most of us begin by emulating others but remaining there will cause stagnation. Art imitates life; your life, your vision, your voice. For me, this has been the most challenging part of the journey.

There was an uh-huh moment for me this last Easter weekend that showed me that I have finally found my voice. The revelation came through another artist at a local coffee shop that was hosting a night of music and art. She told me that she loved the contrasts in my photos. That was it. That one simple statement. I’ve always tended to see things very black and white, and this has come through in my photography. Contrasting colors, textures and scenes have always captivated me.

This image is a good example of that contrast. The lights of the bridge are hanging like diamonds on the velvet night, and the warm city lights emerging above the dark forest home of nature’s urban dwellers draw us like firelight. The biggest reason this image represents my photographic voice is because it was planned before my tripod ever hit the ground.

Visualizing the final image filters the scene through your own personal perspective and palette so that the final product speaks about who you are as clearly as a lyricist’s words. Taking the time to understand what drew you to point your camera at the scene in the first place will tell you what you want to convey to the viewer. If you point at a sunset, it does not tell someone what it is about that view that captured you; it only tells them what you are looking at. Describing that sunset in your own words tells them how you see that scene. Photography is about allowing people to look through you at the world; it’s about writing your description with light. When they look at your finished work it should be like putting your soul to their eye like a lens.

Pictures fill our world every day; photographs, though, reach out of that world to touch us. This should be the goal of anyone who pursues more than a simple snapshot.

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