Saturday, January 22, 2011

How to be a Good Photographer (part 2)

After writing yesterdays blog about the WHY of photography, another key aspect of great photography has been bouncing around in my head. And naturally, its another question. Here it is: What are you trying to say with your photo?

As a photographer, you're supposed to be a visual communicator, right? You're not supposed to simply transmit something you witness in its existing form to the viewer, but to add your interpretation to it (ask any photojournalist if you don't believe me).

So lets take the following press photo, which I bought on eBay a few years ago and think is a superb image, and apply the six questions from my previous post, assuming the first person of the original photographer.

  1. Why did you take that picture? 
  2. What is the concept?
  3. Does it ask or answer a question?
  4. What is the historical, artistic or social significance?
  5. Did you copy anyone? (don't worry, its ok to copy)
  6. What makes this a great photo? 
 The Last Post. Burial of Major Knight of the Eaton Machine Gun Battery.
  1. Propaganda is my job
  2. To bring the horror of what the enemy does home
  3. Yes, mainly Why did he die, but also How
  4. WWI was the greatest conflict of the time
  5. No
  6. Encompasses life and death in a single image
On the surface, photojournalism is not a fair comparison to art photography, however the composition is so perfect that I have a suspicion that the image (except for the death) was staged for the camera, or at the very least manipulated by/for the photographer. In any case, as a visual communicator, the photographer of this image has succeeded. His voice is clear, War is Hell.

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