Saturday, March 24, 2007


Complexity in photography is expressed in three aspects. One is the photographer. Two is the technology, such as the camera system, film or digital capture, computer system and photo editor/production package, and printing. And three is the image. It's also the nature of photography that, despite the capture and presentation viewed as realism, it's a wholly subjective art, and the reflection, intended or not, of all three areas of the photographer and photography.

The photographer also has to see in a complex array of eyes, the mind's eye to look and see, the camera's eye to capture, and the image's eye to present. The second complexity is the camera system used by the photographer to capture, process and produce the images. The third is the image, both the original and the end product, envisioned by the photographer and the final presentation.

The photographer needs three eyes, as described above. Few photographers have all three, let alone master any individual one during a career. This was discussed recently on The photographer has to look and see in their wanderings for an image. Nothing happens without the photographer's vision and their eyes to compose the image in the mind and the viewfinder.

The photographer then has to have the camera's eye, to understand what the camera will do and know how to use the camera to accomplish the photographer's vision. This varys from the traditional practice used with large format photography to the most recent, sophisticated digital camera system. This comes with experience of the basics of photography to know and translate a vision with the camera.

The image is the hardest aspect as it's also the most subjective. It runs the gamut from documentary and street photography by photojournalist and documentary photographers for the communciations of events and the 'street' photographer documenting everday and ordinary life, to the most avante-garde studio photographer, such as Dave LaChapelle. It includes all the types of photography, such as wedding, portrrait, sports, travel, landscape, nature, and studio photography.

And the image can be range from the simple to the complex, as shown on's photo library. In my example, above, there were choices of excluding or including parts of the image. As a practice I try to compose and capture full frame, and using fixed focal length lenses, it can be difficult, but it's how I work in the field. I rarely think through this while working except seeing the image I want after seeing something in the scene.

While many photographers use the camera to define and refine the image they want through the viewfinder, I use the viewfinder to simply reflect what I see and envision for the image. The viewfinder guides where I stand, and yes, a helps a little to clarify my vision of the image. Like the one above, it was a choice of lens and location, and then the composition I saw, asking was it what I want. Then it's a matter of the camera's techonlogy getting there.

And that's the joy of photography, we're all different in our workstyles and workflows, and in the end our personal and professional expression in the final images. After that it's our hope you find something in them.

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