Photography is a Search for Identity

A photo of Glenn Guy, the Travel Photography Guru, on top of a hill above Paradise Harbour in Antarctica.

As photographers our frustration lies in transferring what we see, from our three dimensional world, into the bounds of a two dimensional photograph.  For the artist photographer the challenge goes ones step further: to record how we feel about what we see within the bounds of the photographic frame.

Experience and Understanding

Experience and enhanced technical skills, which come over time, will minimize the gap. But the gap will never completely close or be completely resolved. That is the nature of the creative life, and it’s also the nature of the Human Condition. I doubt that we ever truly understand.

The True Value of Process

But by tapping into our creativity we can at least glimpse the sublime nature within all things. And photography allows us to both record and share that wonderful experience.

I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.
— Michelangelo

I believe we touch the divine through our art and, in doing so, we become the maker. This is the true value of process. Not the fact that you know or can do stuff, but because of the shift in consciousness that occurs by immersing yourself, in an open and contemplative way, in the act of what you are doing.

The Way Forward

It may be that photography, as art, works best by asking questions, rather than by answering them. Strive for answers, but accept that they may be unattainable. Perhaps resolution is best achieved through simplicity of concept and the realization of that simplicity in the design of the finished image.

Photography: A Life’s Calling

Millions of people make photographs. But the fact that you are here sets you aside from the snap shooter. For you photography can be so much more than just a hobby. Photography can be a way of life, and I don't mean a business, if you choose to make it so.

It’s said that "you are what you eat". Well, as an artist, the photographs you create are a mirror of who you are: an individual, meaning seeking and creative soul.

We grow through our experiences. Photography allows us to both record and interpret our experiences. It is both a vehicle by which we can explore and record that growth, our life’s journey.

What Do Photographs Teach Us?

Imagine a beautiful sunrise. Your eyes observes the event, the brain processes and records that image, and the mind makes sense (i.e., perceives) of it.

In photography the lens focuses the image and the sensor records it. The variety of technical and compositional choices you make enable you to determine the relative truth in what you see, and the way you process that image on the desktop allows you to better express the way you perceive that particular reality.

Once the image leaves your desktop it’s then up to the viewer to make sense of it, according to their own knowledge and experiences and their own world view. While we can guide their response, beauty and judgement lies in the eye of the beholder.

Photography, as art, is ultimately a search for identity:

  • The Identity of the subject or scene depicted
  • The identity of the maker (e.g., the artist photographer) and
  • The identity of the viewer (e.g. each individual member of your audience).

This three way dialogue means that subject, photographer and viewer are married together in the collaborative process of photography.

The Artist's Journey: Looking, Seeing, Thinking, Understanding

Photography encourages us to look more closely and think more carefully about the world around us. I think it's important to remember that the more closely you look the more you'll see. And the more you see the more you'll learn about the world around you, about others and about yourself.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru