On Reflection: Week 8, Module Four

‘At this moment in human history, I truly believe that photography is the most universal language on the planet. I think it’s the one language that everyone understands no matter what class they belong to, no matter what education they have, no matter how much money they have, no matter what verbal language they speak — photography is a profoundly rich visual language that is open to all to use and to understand’ (Caspar in Kraft, 2017).

Photography is a visual language: a system of communication using visual elements.

It is a method of visual storytelling in which images replace words, series of images replace sentences, and a body of work provides a narrative.

Photographer’s compose an image, blending light and subject, and exercising choice over colour and timing in the same way that the rules of syntax are used in the arrangement of words and phrases to create well-formed sentences in a non-visual language.

Distilling this idea further, it is the way that a photographer combines technical and creative ability. It is more commonly referred to as the photographer’s style and it can be as unique as a fingerprint.

Photography is also about expressing a (particular) way of seeing, it is a way of interacting with the world. There are many aspects involved in developing a photographer’s visual language, but an overriding trend is essential. Intention is needed on the part of the photographer, there has to be a point of departure, and there has to be consistency.

It’s very easy to get sidetracked in the weeks leading up to an assignment submission. Important as they are, assignments are only one portion of the overall, larger picture.

I am happy with progress made regarding the video presentation, still lots to do but progress so far has been very positive.

With regard to the WIP images, again I am happy with the images as they stand. But being happy isn’t the same as being satisfied. There is always room for improvement and I do want to re-shoot.

Pertinently, the more I look at the images, the more I question.

Something that it is easy to lose sight of is the bias that can creep into a body of work as it develops, especially where re-shooting of images is involved. The alternatives are to present an independent enquiry which invites the viewer to form their own questions and then reach their own conclusions, or to present a body of work which imposes an opinion upon the viewer, leaving little opportunity to question. As a photographer, I think it is acceptable to express a personal opinion through one’s project work provided there is justification for having reached that opinion.

I think we need to be aware of the difference between producing art as a form of expression, and producing propaganda.

This is highly relevant to me at the moment with my increasing interest in visual anthropology, and in photography as a tool for social research.

Do photographers have a responsibility not to introduce bias? How far should a photographer go in expressing their personal opinion regarding a subject through their images?

Which brings us back, very nicely, to photography being a visual language, and each photographer having a unique style which expresses how he or she interacts with the world.



Kraft, Coralie (2017). ‘Searching for Fluency in the Visual Language of Photography’. Lensculture.com [online]. Available at: https://www.lensculture.com/articles/lensculture-editors-searching-for-fluency-in-the-visual-language-of-photography (accessed: Thursday 16 November 2017)

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