How to pass on a hidden message within photography?


Capture the uncapturable

Have you ever taken a look at a photo, which, despite its indirectivity, allowed you to reach another state of mind, and touched your heart so deeply, that you couldn’t get your eyes off it for a good while? What made this particular picture to arouse such feeling and emotions?

Symbolic pictures are extraordinary, they bear something special within their message. They’re full of photographer’s emotions and are able to move the audience as well. You can’t go wrong, having a symbolic photo in front, it’s always able to communicate the content and the meaning, which words couldn’t describe equally.

What’s the recipe for a photographical symbol?

Emotions, feelings and interpersonal relations could be expressed in many ways. Symbol is an outstanding mean of communication, especially when it comes to photography. The effects would go far beyond your expectations, and what is more, against all appearances, it’s not that hard to achieve. All it takes is to find an appropriate spot, which reminds you of something special, or just a superficially ordinary place. Nevertheless, it has to express something you identify with, or something close to your heart. Moreover, you need to think of an item, person or people, who you’re going to take pictures of, it could be a person emotionally tied to you, your relative, or a soulmate. It could also be a total stranger, whom you wish to depict in a special, inimitable way. Then you have to pick up the right moment, which would give an extraordinary take, the one that arouse emotions. It stimulates your imagination.

What are the levels of significance within photography?

We perceive pictures’ lingo at different angles, other than written language because it’s something more than just words. We take it as a metaphor instead of a description of actual state. It’s something impossible to tell, it bears a mystery. You can add several levels of meaning to your photo.

  1. Informative level is the first one. It’s the knowledge we derive from the looks of the effigy, its costume and attitude towards other captured people.
  2. The second level is imagery itself along with semantics of the picture being seen.
  3. Third level – the potency of meaning – it refers to details, signs of the third meaning, e.g. deep facial furrows, bitten lips, the smoothness of the haircut.

How to touch the viewer’s heart?

The thing that makes the viewer to appreciate a particular photo, is the power of affection. Most photos are not capable of affecting the viewers. Why is that so? Well, it’s because most pictures are consistent and can be rationally analyzed. A seemingly odd one out small element of the photo, which, after all, catches viewers attention, would make him feel that there’s more to it. However, one should not confuse it with deliberate activity of the photographer or deliberate “measures”, which purpose is to show contrast to, shock or terrify the viewer. Traumatic photography is a good example of such actions. In other words – photo shocks, e.g. pictures presenting scenes of execution, chopped off heads etc. Most of the times, such photos don’t impress us. What is that so? It’s because the photography has been sketched in, or because of author’s own intentions. Such photos could have been taken to shock the viewer. The problem is that, it has been burden with a kind of instruction, which forbid you to experience it in your own way, to chime in, or to ask questions. A viewer would have been much more touched by a photo of a prisoner, waiting to be executed. Imagine him, gazing on the lens with shackled hands. We chime in the rest of the story, what is going to happen to him, or what has already happened. His death, which is about to come, but at the same time, it hasn’t reached him yet. The things you see relates to the unseen, it’s a link to something that exists far beyond the image.

Let’s put the distressing photography aside for a while and focus on things, which are far more pleasant for our eyes to see – Symbolism within family ties. Symbolic photography always goes along with places full of feelings deriving from emotional blood bonds. Take a family photography for instance, imagine a picture of a newborn and his dad, such scene surely evokes the feeling of strength, as well as, mindfulness, sensitivity and safeness. You don’t fully see the effigies. However, you can easily chime in what has not been told by the photo itself. That’s how symbols work. You experience the story in your own way, you get moved by it and sketch in the rest. Besides showing the existing things, set in random space and time, symbolic photography can show you the details, emerging far beyond this specific place and time, things that go beyond space. Nevertheless, there has to be some kind of force, which directs the viewers’ attention to other elements.

More on that could be found in the article titled signs and symbols within photography.
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