Friday, December 18, 2015

How to Speak the Photographic Language.

“Photography is a foreign language everyone thinks he speaks.”
                                                                             Philip-Lorca diCorcia

Imagine that you’ve just arrived in a foreign country for your first visit.
 You’re filled with a sense of excitement waiting to see new sights, to meet interesting people, to test unusual food.
You are thinking about new possibilities and you can’t wait to start exploring.
But after a few days you begin to feel frustrated. It’s difficult for you to interact with locals, you don’ enjoy your journey… because you don’t understand the language.

This is exactly how many photographers feel the moment they try to communicate their ideas with the outside world.
We’ve forgotten that photography is a language…
Just like the language that you speak every day, photography is a language that communicates our inner feelings with the outside world.
The traditional methods of learning have trained us to focus on the parts of photographic language: aperture, exposure, composition…
But we forget that this information is learned for one purpose – to communicate with other people.

“The meaning of quality in photography's best pictures lies written in the language of vision. That language is learned by chance, not system... our overwhelming formal education deals in words, mathematical figures and methods of rational thought, not in images.”   Walker Evans
And it’s this aspect that will truly change your photography.
The language of photography comes from a culture and experiences in life rather than analysis and theory.

The key to speak a language fluently is developing a vocabulary.
The more words and phrases you know, the more ideas and feelings you can share. The same is true to the photography.

It’s a hard task trying to learn an entire language. Thousands of words, grammar, pronunciation… But you don’t have to learn everything at once.

Mastering a language means having control over the words and phrases you use and adding your knowledge to your situation.
Mastering a language of photography means having control over basics you use and adding your feelings and emotions to your work.

The following quotes have been contributed to the language of art/photography.
“Know what the old masters did. Know how they composed their pictures, but do not fall into the conventions they established. These conventions were right for them, and they are wonderful. They made their language. You make yours. All the past can help you.” Robert Henri

“Art is a language that many people can understand but few can speak.” Eleanor Blair

“Like a foreign language, I use painting to translate ideas, feelings, and moods related to my subjects... not literal translations, but statements of my emotions.” Joseph Mendez

“The Book of Questions..
In what language does rain fall over tormented cities?” Pablo Neruda

“The limits of my language are the limits of my world.” Ludwig Wittgenstein

 “ has no language of its own. One learns to read photographs as one learns to read footprints or cardiograms.”  John Berger

Thank you for reading!
Comments are always appreciated.