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Representational Photography

Updated on October 7, 2014
CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

"Representational photography is the photograph of a certain subject as a
representation of another. For example, you may photograph a favorite video game or a musical video to represent someone." Wikianswers

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

So how do you take one photograph and use it to represent something or someone else? This is the paradox of this style since it can be really difficult to do so appropriately.

Ideally the image will contain the main subject in a set up that also works to show the representation that is intended to fit the main subject.

For example a girl standing still in a field while the wind is howling all around her as if stormy and leaves as well as other things are swirling in the wind serves to perhaps represent the spirit of this girl as unwavering among the harsh reality of her world.

Perhaps a strong face in the midst of a desolate place will serve to represent the same thing. This style is up to the interpretative mind of the photographer as well as how well the audience sees this intended interpretation.

This style approaches more art than anything else but it is done with a camera instead of a brush, yet the same attention to detail and technical nuances that apply to any other photographic style apply here as well. The right must be right, the aperture, f-stop and shutter speed. Everything remains the same.

Have you ever seen the symbol for Justice? The statue of a blindfolded lady holding a balance in one of her hands is a very well recognized symbol that is almost universally taken to represent justice. This level of recognition is what should be accomplished by the photographer.

(CC BY 2.0
(CC BY 2.0 | Source

Found this style interesting and how would you approach it

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This style can also be referred to a symbolism, metaphorical or in some case pictorial ism since they all share similar elements and the styles merge within one another quite easily plus the "distinctions" of what makes one style or the other are not written in stone.

Like most art, it is up to the interpretation of many or as they say "beauty is in the eye of the beholder"

What makes this style popular is that many entities can use its theme such as social campaigns, advertisers, art and as a general expression of the author.

In this sense the style is not that much different from surrealism in that images are meant to take the place of something else.

CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

By far the best method involves using a digital media such as Photoshop/ You can take two separate images and combine them to create one which is a representation of the theme or your idea.

Alternatively, you can digitally edit the main image and add other elements that suggest a theme.

For example lets say that you want to show that someone is of strong character or has a determination that is set in stone; unwavering against life's vicissitudes.

You can take an original of the individual and add a digital background or maybe something like a watermark featuring another image that is generally considered to be of something strong in character, maybe a lion or tiger.


Gilles Klein
Gilles Klein | Source

One of the good things about this particular style is that you are free to play with digital editing but also with the light. Often perfect light is required for most photographic projects, but for this one sometimes the less than perfect light scenario will suit the style best.

Another positive aspect is that you can use color overall or have both color and black and white in the same picture where one medium is used to highlight a picture and the other becomes subservient to the other and the funny thing is that this mixture of colors and monochromes is almost expected, at least with this style of representational art form.

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

This style although mostly done as an art form still has its commercial applications.

The images can be sold to photographic publications, art publications.

They can be used in art galleries and in commercial campaigns, used as part of a book, or done for the sake of a private client.

Most any application that you would use with any other style, technique or theme remains the same.

CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez


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