Photography - An Image with Purpose

 Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve

The image above is not supposed to work. There is no strong point of interest. The gray scale only extends to about a middle grey. The blacks lack detail. No highlights. No specular highlights. 


Photography has has changed so much since I started in the 70’s. Strong vibrant colors were expected. Black and white images were expected to have a tonal range from deep black to whites that showed detail. I attended a photography program and a well exposed negative was the most important part of the image making process. From there a final print with a wide tonal range was exhibited. Composition was rigidly taught. But somewhere clinical photography started to fade away in my personal work.


My image above has lots of mood. Leading lines are there for composition but they don’t lead to a defined subject. The light gap at the end of the walkway is a compositional element that is indifferent. The side rails are void of detail but you look for detail anyway. The wet planks that are walked on are not well defined, almost having an ethereal presence to them. Notice the faint grey band where the horizon should be giving depth to the image. The two dark circles at the right edge of the shoreline. What are they? Notice the “V” that extends into the shoreline and how it mirrors the walkway. No ripples in the water enhance the feeling of solitude. Without ever being there you know that there was complete silence when the image was made. The shutter being activated was the only sound. 


Look at some of your recent images. How do they “feel”. Did you have a purpose for the image. What are you trying to say. So much imagery in the world that has nothing to say. Look deeper into yourself. Express what is inside.