ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Photography and Humanism

Updated on June 27, 2015
CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Humanism is a philosophical and ethical stance that emphasizes the value and agency of human beings, individually and collectively, and generally prefers critical thinking and evidence (rationalism, empiricism) over established doctrine or faith (fideism). The meaning of the term humanism has fluctuated, according to the successive intellectual movements which have identified with it.[1] Generally, however, humanism refers to a perspective that affirms some notion of a "human nature" (sometimes contrasted with antihumanism).

In modern times, humanist movements are typically aligned with secularism and with non-theistic religions.[2] Historically however, this was not always the case."Wikipedia

Approaching your photography from a humanistic standpoint make sense since photography largely captures snippets in time and when these snippets have people as their main subject matter it makes sense to show or rather capture in each photograph what the human condition is.

Street photography is especially adept at doing just this but only when it is done the right way.

Street photography possesses the ability to capture a moment in time in the live of someone.

Here is where the photographer has to aim for a picture that tells something meaningful about the character and the human condition of its subject.

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

There have been great photographers who were well known for their humanistic approach to their work. Their photographs brought about change or at the very least , raised awareness in some cases but always aimed to show the human condition; good or bad, in their subjects.

They tried through their images to showcase the inherit good of most people, the evil that existed in the world, and the discrepancies in how one lived as compared to another.

"W. Eugene Smith’s photographs reflect his boyhood in the American heartland and his coming of age in the agony of World War II. His work, imbued with moral fervor, evinces a clear difference between good and evil, the individual’s ability to transcend his or her circumstances, the inherent goodness (even heroism) in people, the capacity and willingness of one person to help others (such as the healers in country doctor, nurse-midwife and Albert Schweitzer)."

How would you approach such a project?

See results

Humanist photography in a way is like poetry but without words. Using photographs and a camera instead of paper and a pen.

It tries to bring about the experience of the celebration of life and to showcase the diversity in our human condition.

Off course it is always tainted or rather influenced by the experiences and views of the person behind the lens but the aim mostly remains the same.

Some ways of doing this are focused on how to to show the pleasures of life, and the day to day struggles that many face. It is often cutting but often poetic at the same time..

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source
(CC BY-SA 3.0
(CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source | Source

The theme is suited well for a monochrome medium like black and white but colors will do just as fine.

Keep in mind that the images do not have to solely focus on images of that show gloom and doom.

Humanistic photography also celebrates the small triumphs in life like a proud looking shop owner or a happy bride.

Doesn't humanistic photography resemble other types of photography you may be asking and if so you are absolutely correct.

Photojournalism is very similar but while photojournalism focuses on an newsworthy important event humanistic photography on the other hand focuses on the people not the events around them.

This by no means is to say that whatever is happening around the main subject should not be taken into consideration or shown alongside the person. It just means that the action is not as important as those involved in it.

The question is how does the action have an effect on the people. This is by far the most important quality that humanistic photography looks for.

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

A good way to do such a project is to look at it as a humanistic photo essay. In essence you will be telling a story of either one individual or of many.

Depending on what you emphasize this can take a long time to come to fruition.

This type of photography is very suited for eBooks, for general photographic presentations, for welfare and philosophical publications and many other commercial tendencies.

Your images must be different from the rest but the good thing is that no situation is basically the same as any other.

If done well most will find a commercial venue suitable for it showcasing if that should be your intent.

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      sallybea: Thank you very much

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 

      6 years ago from Norfolk

      LuisEGonzalez - a terrific Hub. It definitely captured the moment!

      I love street photography and spend quite a bit of time doing exactly that. I very much enjoyed reading this Hub. Thank you. Voted up and awesome.

      Best wishes,


    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      6 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Ericdierker: Thank you very much!

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      6 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Simply Outstanding! This article is more like a force than a tutorial, thank you.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)