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Interpretative Photography

Updated on December 10, 2016
LuisEGonzalez profile image

I enjoy photography and have been doing so professionally and independently for over 30 years.

"What is life?"  CC BY 2.0
"What is life?" CC BY 2.0 | Source

Some photographers or more artists than anything else, use layering techniques to add texture to their images.

Paper, cloth, leather, sand and other photographs of materials which clearly show texture are incorporated into other images via a digital program like Photoshop to give these images a "feel" of texture that makes viewers feel as if they wanted to reach out and touch them.

These specialists "paint" with light instead of just taking pictures as their images look and feel like paint on canvas.

Digital programs are very useful since you can adjust colors, use layers to make composites, and curves to darken ,lighten or change tones altogether.

What is considered to be an interpretative photograph you may ask? For the most part and by most accepted definitions it is one that, rather than placing the full emphasis on a literal subject, tends to showcase only a small a portion of the subject and this can be a line or lines, a shape or shapes, or a color or the full subject but in a "light" that leaves many elements up to interpretation.

Interpretative photography is often abstract as this style lends itself well for it but it really does not have to be.

Generally speaking this style tries to incorporates the use of striking light, an unusual, or unique perspective as well as unusual angles.

The idea is to show the subject in a flattering and artistic way. Although many showcase the subject in a shocking, or other compelling format that is out of the ordinary and seldom fits any common photographic mold.

The main intention of the technique is to convey a message to the viewer that transcends beyond the literal appearance of the subject on which the photographs are based.

For example reflections have been captured in photographs many times and most are very pleasing as well as intriguing yet a reflection of a person especially when the human form is indistinguishable as that of a man or a woman can serve the theme by asking the question "what is life about?"

"rope down to paradise"  CC BY-ND 2.0
"rope down to paradise" CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

Does this style appeal to your artistic side?

See results

It is not what the photographs mean to any one individual but rather how the image affects a viewer and how the same image is taken to mean by another person.

A picture can signify different things to different people yet a picture's significance depends largely on the skill of the person behind the camera who looks at at subject and decides how and when to snap the shutter.

Therefore , interpretative photography is more of what an image signifies rather than what an image what meant to show.

"of, involving, or providing interpretation; expository interpretatively , interpretively adv" http://www.thefreedictionary.com

Lets say that you come upon a beautiful red rose. If you take the rose's picture that is what you end up; a photograph of a beautiful red rose. On the other hand lets say that you use your lens to focus closely on the petals leading away from the rose's center. This can signify love, as it has its ups and downs.

You now use a pen light and aim it at the rose's center leaving the rest of the rose with less light than its center. This can signify love as it starts to grow in ones heart and can spread out to envelope all of our being. The same significance can be said to occur if you were to light up the rose from the back.

Like what was said previously, lines and shapes lend themselves quite well for this particular photographic theme.

CC BY-SA 2.0
CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

With interpretative photography the photographer does not just take a photograph, but rather makes a photograph.

The photographer looks at a subject an decides what to include and what to exclude and he is always thinking of the effect that the photograph will have on viewers and how this photograph will be received and interpreted by those who look upon it.

In other words, the viewers move from gathering visual information about a photograph and into matters of meaning and significance.

What does this signify and why was it captured this way, what is the photographer's intention, are just some of the basic questions that viewers of interpretative photography may ask.

"Embraced by Words" CC BY-SA 2.0
"Embraced by Words" CC BY-SA 2.0 | Source

To put it another way; think of interpretative photographs as metaphors that need to be studied and deciphered, and its reason implied.

Unlike some words, pictures are not easily understood since the amount of information is much less when compared to other works of art, mainly novels and such.

The works that fall under interpretative are influenced by the thinking, the motivations, the bias and the attitudes of the photographer and by the same token, the photograph will be judged the same way by its audience.

The best thing about such a photographic undertaking that many of the images are very suitable for a presentation in an fine arts gallery and for submission to many art publications as well as to the majority of photography related mediums.

They also make very exquisite single print decorations.

This style or theme will probably push your artistic limits so it is worthwhile to study the theme further and browse through several samples.

Once you finish the project be your own worst critic and submit only the images that strike you as belonging to the theme.

Try to accompany each submission with technical details as well as information about what your intentions are or rather what you intend the image to imply.

"it's cold." CC BY-SA 2.0 DE
"it's cold." CC BY-SA 2.0 DE | Source

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez

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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image
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      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      alancaster149: This theme is very difficult to get right and I have only dwelt in it a few times before but mostly with abstracts.

    • alancaster149 profile image

      Alan R Lancaster 4 years ago from Forest Gate, London E7, U K (ex-pat Yorkshire)

      Some interesting ideas here. Looking for all the world like a Rembrandt exercise in light interpretation, 'It's cold' appeals to me as well. Then I'm interested in interpretive photography, having entered a number of black & white and colour images in competitions in the 70's. I also like the reflective image at the top.

      One image I was 'chuffed' with - taken a long time ago (early 70's) in Victoria Station's bus depot - was a b/w image of a close-up of a bus driver's cab with the background out of focus. I experimented with high resolution colour slide (400 ASA), generally used for commercial or industrial themes, very 'grainy' and good for taking images in bad light or rainy weather conditions. Reds and blues tended to look dark and wet areas reflected well. Can't remember the name exactly, but it was an internationally renowned brand like 3M or BASF.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile image
      Author

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      sallybea: thank you. My favorite is actually the one titled "it's cold"

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 years ago from Norfolk

      LuisEGonzalez Some very interesting ideas here. Love the image of the newspaper covered body hugging the girl - not sure how it was done unless it was with Photoshop! Wish my skills in this area were better but sadly it takes more time than I have currently have to really get proficient at it.

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