Your Best Photos Touch The Heart And Stimulate The Mind

Windows and Lamp, Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg is a very old and beautiful city. With lovely architecture, parks and historic sites there’s plenty to keep the enthusiastic photographer happily photographing and exploring. And that’s even before you consider a Sound Of Music tour.   

Beauty And History In The Backstreets Of Salzburg

The above image was made on a long walk through the city’s backstreets and cobbled laneways. It was an overcast morning and raining but, with my time in Salzburg almost at an end, I felt the need to get out and about. 

I wanted to emphasize the size of the wall and the space between the windows so I set my lens to its widest angle (i.e., 24 mm on my full-frame camera) and composed the image with the lamp in the lower centre of the frame.

I then zoomed in a little closer (i.e., 28 mm) until I got a good arrangement of windows (open, closed and somewhere in-between) in the background.

I like the variation in tone ranging from black, through mid tones and into near white in the window panes.

An interior landscape, encassed within a window frame in Salzburg, Austria

I Hope This Is More Than Just A Pretty Photo

Actually windows can be very symbolic and are often linked to dreams. This is particularly the case with a closed window, especially one that seems to radiate a kind of glow or reflects clouds.

How about a different example? Think of an image of a window made from within a prison cell or sweat shop. That kind of photo is likely to suggest notions of freedom, in the world outside, that are unattainable to those on the inside

Compare that to an image of a wealthy aristocrat overlooking their domain through an open window. How about a royal wedding or an address by the pope where the powerful, special or anointed one walks up to a window, or through a door onto a balcony, to address the faithful from above? That's a strong metaphor that's all about power and obedience.

A spectacular stained glass window in the chapel where the body of Duke Frederick II rests at Helligenkreuz Abbey in Austria.

We Derive Meaning Through Images

Whether we’re talking about a window into our dreams, onto a world of possibilities, or a physical barrier keeping one detained is the point here.

It’s just a window, but the meaning we associate with that window is what’s important.

And it’s the photographer who provides the visual clues that often determine how their audience will read and understand a particular photo.

We can't tell people what to think, but we can certainly guide them, or least, suggest possibilities beyond the obvious.

Ways Of Seeing Is A Classic By John Berger

While the images in this post were made as documents that utilize subject and composition to make visually interesting images, the history of art, religion and power, all interrelated, is never far away. As is an exploration of the Human Condition.

The fact that advertisers and film makers alike have referenced these motifs in their own work means there's likely to be a sense of recognition and connection with just about any viewer.

Sometimes it's that connection, working at a subconscious level, that attracts our attention.

I remember a wonderful little book, from my earliest days as a photography student, by English art critic, novelist, painter and poet John Berger titled Ways Of Seeing. It was the companion book for a BBC TV series, which you can find on YouTube.

“You painted a naked woman because you enjoyed looking at her, put a mirror in her hand and you called the painting “Vanity,” thus morally condemning the woman whose nakedness you had depicted for you own pleasure.”
— John Berger, Ways of Seeing

I highly recommend you take a look at the Ways Of Seeing video. It may look dated, from a technological and fashion perspective, but the content within the video is outstanding.

Regardless, the book Ways Of Seeing remains a classic which I'd recommend to all meaning-seeking people.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru