When you look at a photograph, you might have two distinct reactions, usually never conjointly. You might find the image stunning, pretty, beautiful or you might find the image compelling, forceful, impressive. An image might appeal to your senses of beauty, while the other will appeal to your emotions. That’s because there are only really two kinds of photographs. Those that capture the meaning and those that capture the aesthetics.
Most pro photographers, those that earn a living by taking pictures, are essentially concerned about capturing the essence of a moment. They see their role as the one of a revelation of the substance of what they are witnessing. Being it sports, news, travel, illustration, they use their cameras as a tool extract the core experience of an instant. This implies preserving, if not enhancing, the human reality so that, to the viewer, it  feels as they were present. Framing, lighting, angle, capture speed, depth of field are all put to use in order to eliminate distractions from the core content. They engage viewers by forcing them to connect via a rational response.
Most advanced amateurs and amateurs, on the hand hand, are obsessed with aesthetics. They want their photographs to look beautiful, regardless of the subject. That is one of the reason for the success of Instagram, or the proliferation of HDR photography. The subject matter is less important than the overall beauty of the image. What is important here is to connect with the viewer on a purely aesthetic level, nothing more.
Both type of photography are popular, with maybe a higher volume of those most obsessed by appearance photography. Both are not incompatible but however seldom seen combined as most often, the intend can be antagonistic: focusing on beautification can distract the viewers from the substantial. This si why there will always be a big divide between professionals and amateurs. They do not approach their subjects, or photography in general, the same way. Their intentions are vastly different, as well as the results. While not antagonistic, it is frequent to see misunderstanding between the two approach who seem to, most of the time, ignore each other.

Share Button

One Thought on “Meaning vs Aesthetics

  1. Pingback: Why citizen photojournalism doesn’t matter | Thoughts of a Bohemian

Post Navigation