Photography - A Philosophical Approach

This presentation, featuring photos from many exotic locations, presents some suggestions for how to begin the process of determining the philosophy that underpins your own photography.

My New Home

I'm one of the Inception Masters at The Arcanum, the Magical Academy of Artistic Mastery. We're working very hard, with relatively small cohorts of dedicated Apprentices and brilliant support staff, to create what we believe will be a revolutionary new experience in photography education.

You'll begin to hear a lot about The Arcanum in photography circles over coming months and years. It currently takes up a great deal of my time, but it's an investment I'm making for the future. And it's also an incredibly creative place to work.

Each Master looks after their own cohort of Apprentices. I was recently asked to join an online discussion of students work from another cohort. As a way of promoting the event I made the above video which outlines my own approach to photography. The text that follows is the speech that accompanies the images in the above presentation. 

Greetings and Salutations!

My name is Glenn Guy. February 2015 marked my 36th year in the photography industry. I haven’t always worked as a photographer, but my love of photography has underpinned everything I’ve done. Over the years I’ve been a wedding/portrait photography, landscape photographer, film stills, travel photographer and photography tutor. I’ve also worked in retail, manufacturing, customer support and product management roles, all within the photographic industry. 

Self and Other

The most important thing I ever did for another was to give my father permission to die.

The most important thing I ever did for myself was to travel, which I began doing in 1988. Marrying my love for photography and travel has given me purpose and motivation and a range of self-initiated projects have kept me traveling and, during what now seems like those difficult middle years of my life, prevented photography from being left behind due to the pressures of career and the like. 

Nine years of tertiary education, culminating in a Masters of Photography helped keep me focused on my photography, even if it was just during lectures and on vacation when travel and photography provided such excellent adventures.

What’s in a Name

These days I brand myself as a Travel Photographer. It’s the perfect fit as it includes landscape and people-based photography and, on occasions, architectural and wildlife work.

It’s all great fun and, regardless of the subject matter or the genre before me, the underlying themes of my work remain consistent. This is an important learning for those of us who work intuitively. It’s one thing to make images, but our direction and purpose is made ever more clear when we spend the time editing, selecting and organizing our best work into collections or bodies of work that make sense.

Want to know who you are and what you are about? Stop talking and let your most creative work tell you.  

Life is a Journey

Along the way, depending on your interests and the opportunities you make for yourself, you may get to explore all manner of photography subject matter, but it’s your underlying world view and the way you approach your photography that determines the actual nature of your work. Documentary fine-art, photojournalist, travel, portrait, landscape and fashion photographer are all tags that help separate us from each other and also define our place in the market.

But, regardless of the genre, and whether we are commercially successful or otherwise, we are artists at heart. What matters to me is whether our work is based upon self or other and if it relates to wider concerns beyond the genre or subject in front of our camera's lens

The Artists Life

To help make sense of this let’s try to move away from genres such as landscape, portrait and fashion and begin looking at our photography, and the work of others that we admire, and begin to describe images in other terms. Here’s some examples from the world of composition: 

  • Light, line, shape, color and space. Some of the images in this presentation actually include more than one of those elements within the frame.
  • This image of a tea stall operator uses color to help draw the viewer in and to help tell the story. 
  • We all make images where the subject of the photo is quite obvious. Here’s a picture of devotees around Mother Teresa’s tomb in Kolkata, India.


  • But we also make images where the subject of the photograph is actually compositionally based. This photo of a pile of barrels in Bali, Indonesia is quite literally a study in composition.
  • We also make images that are more emotively based, largely because they explore the Human Condition and our relationship with nature and the sublime

The Human Condition

Let’s move deeper and look at notions such as the following:

  • beauty
  • relationships
  • duality
  • metamorphosis
  • being alone and loneliness
  • interdependence
  • authority
  • war and heroism
  • transience and the ethereal
  • devotion, identity and spirituality

We then marry interesting subject matter, composition, technique and metaphor into images that are more meaningful because they carry with them the opportunity for the viewer to consider issues such as conservation; ideology; the worker; class; domesticity; fragility; joy and hope; the natural world and our place within it. 


Ultimately I strive to create life affirming images. My mission in life is to share the beauty of the world and its people with an ever wider audience.

I hope to meet you one day, whether on line or at some place special. Until then may a gentle light illuminate your way and may life’s trials and tribulations bring you, through your photography, to a place of peace and beauty.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru