I have a number of larger books on my bookshelf and they are nearly all photography books. They’re not books about the mechanics of taking pictures, they are books full of photographs that people have taken, there are some words, but the reason I own them is for the pictures.
They are predominantly nature photographs of one type or another. One is black-and-white and predominantly abstract. Another contains photographs taken from space showing the most amazing places from a perspective that very few of us will ever experience. There are books that focus on different parts of the beautiful British Isles and some which cover different part of the world. I’m particularly susceptible to photographs of hills and lakes.
Beauty is the best way to describe these pictures that I could think of. Whether they are showing the macro or the micro; whether they are clear and brilliant, or abstract and blurred each one is speaking beauty.
The photographs capture the beauty that is already there, they don’t manufacture it. They encapsulate and frame an honest natural elegance. One of the reasons I don’t like heavily manipulated pictures is because they have lost their honesty.
At one level a picture is just a set of different coloured tiny dot, but that’s the mystery of a picture. The tiny dots come together into patterns that communicate a meaning to us and meaning communicates emotion.
A low resolution picture that is 1024 pixels by 768 pixels showing only 256 colours has over 200 million different combinations of dots available to it. The 8 megapixel camera in my phone can create at least 133 trillion different combinations of coloured dots. That’s a lot of pictures, so many that the human eye wouldn’t be able to perceive the difference between some of them because our eyes aren’t that sensitive.
The dots themselves don’t have a meaning, the meaning comes from the patterns in the dots and what those patterns communicate.
Like all art the photographs communicate all sorts of emotions because of their diverse perspectives and my diverse experiences. The way that I respond to these pictures will likely be different to the way that you respond because my experiences are different. Sometimes, though, we will respond in a similar way because the pictures reflect a shared experience.
These photographs are like miniature stories in a single image. I love sitting looking through these books and experiencing the stories that they tell me, it’s a privilege to participate in the blessings that they bring.
“To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”
“A great photograph is one that fully expresses what one feels, in the deepest sense, about what is being photographed.”